Jamaica's rugby teams ready for action at Pan Am qualifiers
Christopher Samuda (right), president of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) and Ryan Foster (left), JOA CEO greet some members of Jamaica's delegation during the official send-off of the men's and women's rugby teams to the Pan Am Games qualifiers in Barbados. The occasion took place at the JOA headquarters in Kingston on Tuesday.
Jamaica’s men’s and women’s rugby teams were fully convinced of achieving Pan American and Olympic Games qualification, upon their departure earlier this week for the Pan Am Games qualifiers in Barbados this weekend.
Local members of both teams took pride of place and utilised the opportunity to showcase their optimism, during a send-off at the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), the island’s parent body for sports.
“I’m confident in my team that we’ll be able to qualify for the Pan Am Games and Hong Kong Sevens. We’ve put in all the work and we’re going down there not only to compete, but to perform to the best of our ability,” said Sasha-Gay Green, captain of the national women’s team, popularly referred to as Lady Crocs.
“Our main rivals will be the Trinidadians and the Mexicans and we’re confident we can beat them,” added Green. “We’ve beaten Trinidad before and Mexico, right now they’re the main ones and we’re going to snap them. They’re the serpents and we’re the crocodiles and we’re going to bite them. I’m confident my Lady Crocs can beat whoever we come up against.”
Oshane Edie, captain of the men’s team, said he was confident but expressed a bit of caution.
“We’re the defending champions, but we’re not banking on that. We’ve made our preparations and analysed the teams that we’re going up against.”
Looking at the competition, Edie added: “Bermuda is coming strong and we’re looking at them because they’ve made some additions to their team as well. We encountered Trinidad and Guyana in Colombia and we understand what they’re going to bring to the table. We’ve trained for that, we’re going out there on our toes and we’re expecting to play our game.”
In Colombia, both finished as top Caribbean teams at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, with the Reggae Crocs securing the bronze medal.
The Jamaicans will launch their quest on Saturday in group play, which funnels the lead teams into bigger play-off spots and ultimately Sunday’s finals. The champion team is guaranteed a spot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics; while the top two will advance to the Pan American Games to be held in Lim, Peru, which also presents opportunity for Olympic competition.
“We’re looking towards the ‘Lima Invasion’,” noted Christopher Samuda, JOA President, as he referenced the Pan Am Games host city.
“This will be a test, every new beginning is a test of your mettle, gumption, focus, team spirit,” he noted of the challenge in Barbados, which the JOA assisted with sponsorship valued at $1 million. “Lima Invasion is one aspect of the journey, the landmark is Tokyo and the JOA is fully behind you.”
Ryan Foster, the JOA’s CEO, also endorsed the rugby teams’ recent advances.
He said: "The JOA is pleased with the level of growth and success in the rubgy movement. Following on the recent success in the CAC Games and their qualification and participation in the World Cup, rubgy is on an upward trajectory and is definitely one of the sports that will be a part of the 10 sporting disciplines in Tokyo 2020.
“We are proud of their success and the level of sacrifice made by their athletes for country. I am a proud CEO as this has been our most successful year in many regards coming from the Commonwealth Games, CAC Games and the World U20 championship," he added.