Barbados Rugby U19’s emerge second in NACRA 2014
The North America Caribbean Rugby Association’s 2014 Under-19 Tournament took place in Trinidad recently, culminating in the finals on Saturday July 20.
Mexico are the 2014 champions, having defeated underdogs Barbados in a hard-fought match that ended 17-10 under the lights at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
The road to the finals was not easy, as Barbados faced tough opposition from Jamaica and then reigning champions Cayman Islands, with the latter looking to retain the title for a fourth straight year. The Jamaica-Barbados match was the first event of the tournament and took place at the Fatima College grounds. The Bajans jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, thanks to tries from Ellis Pinder-Young and captain Conrad Edgar. Unable to increase their lead, Barbados ably defended against a spirited Jamaica attack to win their first fixture.
The second match for Barbados was against a depleted Cayman Islands team, who are in a rebuilding phase as nearly half of last year’s squad have aged out of the U19 division. Still, the reigning champions opened up a lead that stretched to as much as 11 points, until a tactical error late in the second half gave the Bajans the opportunity to jump ahead with nothing left on the clock. Tries were scored by Ryan Browne (2), Nicholas Daniel and the heart-stopping last minute game winner by birthday boy Conrad Edgar who turned 19 that day. Final score was 22-21, much to the dismay of the losing team.
So the Bajans went into the finals against the Mexican Serpents with a great deal of confidence, having won their group in decisive fashion. Card troubles kept the Mexicans short-handed for much of the game, but the Bajans were unable to translate this advantage into a score. Despite spirited plays by twins Jake and Iestyn Caddy, and some amazing defence by veteran Shane Howard, the only Bajan try was scored by the dependable Conrad Edgar. Full time score was 17-10 to the Serpents.
The Barbadian management team expressed great satisfaction with the result, saying it was their best finish in 10 years, and was a result of intense training and a phenomenal performance from a determined group of talented young men. The players themselves were bitterly disappointed, but acknowledged that they had done their country proud and had thoroughly enjoyed every other part of the tournament.
The BRFU are actively working to encourage more youth participation in the discipline of rugby, as it requires a minimum of equipment, and there are positions suited to all body shapes and sizes.
The U19 team returned home early on Sunday morning, and are busy cheering for the Barbados Rugby Sevens team representing the country at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.