Bermuda retain the Conyers Cup (Rugby)
Pictures by Caroline Deegan
Text by Peter de Vere
In a spectacle only seen on these shores every 2 years the Cayman Islands Rugby Club was descended upon by hoards of Bermudan rugby players, their supporters and their Caymanian counterparts and families. For 2 short days organizers from the Cayman Rugby Union and the Bermudan RFC were in high gear to mobilize 100’s of children ranging in age from 7 to 15 on and off the rugby pitch. Indeed, to make the trip from Bermuda to Cayman possible for the party of 120 (players, coaches and chaperones), A Boeing 737-800 (172 seats) plane was chartered from Miami Air!
The Conyers Cup Competition, first played for in Bermuda in 2009 is a youth rugby tournament competed for between old rugby foes, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands for youngsters between competing in the U10, U12, U14 and U16 age groups, however this year as an added bonus the Junior teams were joined by their Senior Men’s counterparts who faced off in a fully sanctioned IRB international on Sunday 2 May.
Whilst Cayman were buoyed by strong performances in the Saturday warm up games the spoils ultimately went to Bermuda. In the first game of the Conyers Youth Challenge Cup, Bermuda won the Under-10 match by 20-5 after a strong performance. Tries from Padraic O’Shaugnessy who scored two, and one apiece from Tyler Kendall and William Montgomery, were enough to see enough the host’s challenge.
The Under-12 match was more one-sided, as Bermuda put in a dominant performance to run out 35-0 winners over their Cayman counterparts. Their try scorers were Mikiel Thomas, Liam Bird, James Collins, Logan Ball, Grenville Lines, Tom Hill and Will Lorimer-Turner. The Under-14 match turner out to be a tense affair, as Bermuda dug deep to edge Cayman out on a 14-5 score-line. Cayman were favorites to win the fixture having never lost at this age group. Bermudan Captain Graham Cooke put in a huge performance in leading from the front. Micah Perozzi and Tadhg O’Shaughnessy scored a try each, and Daniel Nash kicked two conversions. Cayman were saved from a Bermudan white wash of victories in the U16 division.
The Under-16 Bermuda side was playing in their first ever 15-a-side match and put a brave performance in, but went down 48-7 to their more experienced opponents. Bermuda retained the Cup with a 3-1 win, again showing the strength of the youth set up on the island whilst the Cayman players and coaches aim to rebuild for their 2011 trip to Bermuda and win their first ever Conyers Cup.
In the men’s fixture, Bermuda got off to the perfect start when a good move ended with the young winger Shauntino Simons stepping off the wing to take a beautiful switch pass to go over near the posts for the opening try. Rich Holden converted to give Bermuda a 7-0 lead. A fantastic scrum from the pack saw them steal the ball and when the ball was swung wide, it was knocked on with a try looking certain. Cayman were boosted by this and they struck back through flanker Shaun Gerrard, after a line-out and maul pushed them close to the line. Josh Brown, playing at full back converted superbly from the touchline to tie the game up. An error from Neville Zuill from a mark saw a hurried clearance that didn’t find touch, and Cayman returned it down the line for Phil O’Connor to go over in the corner.
Brown missed the conversion but made up for it before half-time when cheekily drop kicking a penalty over after the ball wouldn’t stay upright for a placed kick. It left Bermuda trailing 15-7 at half-time. Even with the half time lead Cayman failed to capitalize on their lead and failed to play the game in the Bermudan half of the field. Excellent pressure from a kick forward saw Bermuda drive Cayman backwards, and Cayman collapsed the maul. Half-time replacement Greg Fraser calmly slotted the kick. An offside infringement gave Fraser another shot at goal which he duly converted. Impressive flanker Rich Brown then intercepted a wayward Cayman pass and after marauding his way up the pitch, offloaded to Tom Edwards who was taken down with a high tackle. The resultant penalty was again successfully dispatched by Fraser as
Bermuda edged back in front. Bermuda then presented Cayman with a chance to regain the lead after an infringement at the breakdown, but Brown missed to the right of the posts. More pressure from Bermuda put them deep in the Cayman ’22 with a scrum, and after a couple of quick phases, spun it wide to Dave Porter to gleefully dive over in the corner. Fraser wonderfully converted from the touchline and then continued his flawless display with the boot to kick another penalty after another high tackle by Cayman. It secured a fine 26-15 win over tricky opponents.
Cayman National Coach Brad Cowdroy saw his first game in charge slip out of his hands due largely in part to a mixture of panic and inexperience. When the game should have been firmly in hand for the Caymanians it slipped to the Bermudans who showed great character to come back from the half-time deficit. Bermuda have risen one place in the IRB world rankings to 55, while the result sees Cayman drop seven places to 69.