Jamaica rugby chief happy as men and women keep Olympic hopes alive

By Michael Hudson

Jamaica men’s and women’s sevens teams finished runners-up at the Rugby Americas North (RAN) Sevens tournament in the Cayman Islands, thereby advancing to the final Olympic qualification repechage event.

The chairman of the country’s Rugby Football Union, Jerry Benzwick, couldn’t be more pleased that the national teams have one final shot at Olympic qualification.

The men’s team got to the final of the RAN Sevens unbeaten but lost to Canada in the final 40-5. Speaking with the Jamaica Gleaner, Benzwick said he wasn’t surprised at the result.

“For our men, going up against Canada, the results were not a surprise. We know the quality that Canada has. For a domestic team like ours, to go against professionals like them, was not a simple feat,” Benzwick said.

“We did make it to the final in fine style. We brushed away our competition and dominated the Caribbean region completely. What we need now is to develop to the point where we can compete against teams like Canada

“It came down to a lack of practice. If you can control the kick-off, then you can dominate a team. Their strength, their size and their fitness was evident in the way they [Canada] executed their game.”

The women’s team had a similar RAN campaign to their male counterparts, getting to the final undefeated but narrowly losing to Mexico 19-15 in the final. Benzwick was full of praise for the Lady Crocs and claimed the loss was because of to simple mistakes.

“I am very proud of my girls. They dominated the competition straight to the very end. It was a single moment that happened that they didn’t seize which led to their demise,” he said.

“We will beat Mexico when we play them again, and they know it as well. The game is played in seven minutes per half and the simplest mistakes cost us that game.”

World Rugby’s repêchage is the final opportunity for Olympic qualification will take place on a date and venue to be determined in 2020.

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