The Rugby Americas North (RAN), Caribbean Championship will begin for T&T’s senior men’s team tomorrow with a clash against Barbados at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella, from 4 pm.
The match is the host’s first in this year’s depleted South Zone of the Caribbean Championship as Martinique and Curacao pulled out of tournament leaving three teams in the competition, with Guyana being the other nation.
Barbados is coming to T&T having lost their opening match against Guyana 34-26 and will be eager to upset the hosts who will attempt to prove a point by making it back to the championship final after a loss to Guyana last year.
Head coach of the team is New Zealander Kyle Wynyard, who said that Saturday’s match is the beginning of a long term goal for him and his technical staff.
“Our goal is to ensure that Trinidad and Tobago is the number one team in the Caribbean, that’s what our goal is and we are doing all that we can to ensure that the standard of rugby we play is of the best level that we can with the players that we have at our disposal,” he said.
This is the first national team assignment for Wynyard who has coached at the club level abroad and locally with Northerns in 2000.
And he has praised his players for their response to his programme despite a late start to preparations.
“Has our preparation been ideal? No, because it has been so condense. But the guys have been enthusiastic, they’ve trained to the best of their ability and we are quietly confident that we will do well this weekend,” he said.
Following the T&T versus Barbados clash, Wynyard and his team will turn their focus to their next RAN fixture which is October’s trip to Guyana.
Saturday’s international fixture will be preceded by the debut of the T&T Women’s Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG) seven-a-side team, which is an Under-18 unit preparing for the Commonwealth Youth Games to be held in the Bahamas from July 19 to 23. On Saturday they will take on a Caribs/Rainbow Select Women’s Team from 1.30 pm also at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium.
Head coach of the team is Ronald Silverthorn, who has had the team in training for almost three months and vouched for the team’s readiness for this weekend’s challenge, saying, “This will be our first run out and its just a test to see where they are. In training they are showing that is improvement. Many of the girls are new to the sport but their response is not bad.”
The T&T Rugby Football Union (TTRFU) is encouraging patrons to come out to the matches and is asking citizens to wear red in support of the national teams.