In this Peter Marshall photograph, The Trinidad All Stars were winners of the first ever Get Into Rugby – Barbados tournament.

Bajan and Trini schoolgirls make rugby history


Get Into Rugby – Barbados (GIR), the local arm of an international programme overseen by World Rugby, made history this past Saturday at the Garrison Savannah when the Barbados Rugby Football Union (BRFU) hosted the 
visiting Trinidad and Tobago All Stars Team. 
With both the hosts and visiting sides comprising schoolgirls, the novices took on the faster-paced version of the game – sevens – for the first time, creating history for the Get Into Rugby initiative in the region.
The BRFU fielded two teams, the Hurricanes and the Dragonflies, comprising secondary school students who have all been playing rugby for less than one year. The tournament took the form of a round robin event, with Game 1 going in the favour of the All Stars, 32-5 as they knocked the wind out of the Hurricanes. Tries were scored by visitors Imanuell Francis (3), Kimberley Chen (2), and a try and conversion from Jada Husbands. Jessica Darrell scored the lone Hurricanes try.
Game 2 saw the All Stars taking on the Dragonflies with a similar result. Trinidad beat the home team, 29-5. Rhea McCollin scored the lone try for the Flies, while the visitors racked up points from Kimberley Chen and A. O’Brien, who both had two tries each, and C. Charles who had one try. Conversions from K. Rampersad and S. Grey brought up the total.
Game 3 was an all-Bajan affair, with the Hurricanes roundly defeating the Dragonflies, 35-5. Once again, McCollin scored her team’s lone try, while Alanna Quintyne and Jara Emtage-Cave scored three tries each, and Seané Durant had one.
Unfortunately, the Hurricanes were unable to maintain their momentum in the final against the unbeaten All Stars. Jara Emtage-Cave scored the only try for the Bajans, while Trinidadians Susanna Grey, Gianna Shiri-Roberts and Kimberley Chen scored one each. Imanuell Francis had two tries while Carlina Phillips made one conversion. The game ended 27-5 to the visitors.
The final score did not accurately portray the level of intensity and sheer determination shown by all the players on the day. What they may have lacked in skills and tactics, they more than made it up in gritty courage, made all the more remarkable because of their youth and relative inexperience. There is no substitute for match experience, and facing a more experienced or more skillful opponent offers many teachable moments.
The All Stars lived up to their name and were impressively disciplined and prepared, exhibiting a maturity and professionalism that many older athletes would do well to emulate. Good training and coaching must be praised, especially when they lead to impressive victories.
GIR started in the Caribbean less than a year ago, and the coaches and administrators must be commended for their hard work in bringing to fruition the very first international girls sevens tournament in Barbados. It should be noted that rugby will be played at the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August 2016, and it will be the shorter sevens version. Rugby was last played at Olympic level in 1924, and it was the men’s XVs version.
In addition, the inaugural Rugby World Barbados Sevens tournament will kick off on December 10-11, 2016, and will feature top level teams from all over the world. 
Rugby is the fastest growing sport in North America right now, with the sevens format being especially popular. Requiring little in the way of equipment, and offering positions for a variety of body types and skill sets, rugby in Barbados is poised to take off in the schools, as well as the four established clubs.

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