7's Rugby the Key to Rugby Success in Trindad and Tobago

Dumont WalkerSenior Analyst IMay 1, 2009

With summer fast approaching here in the United States that means summer 7's season is right around the corner. The fast paced rugby hybrid has become a hit in the States, and for those of you who have followed Walker-Sports for a while know that while we are not fans of Rugby 7's we do believe it will be the path the U.S. takes if they want to make an impact on the world scene.

Well after talking with our friends over at Heavens Game, it looks that we are not the only ones who believe rugby 7's could be used as a vehicle for a country's success. In an intereting conversation, the boys from Heavens Game are talking about Rugby 7's and the small island of Trinidad and Tobago, not exactly a country known for their rugby.

Heavensgame has been fortunate to have a discussion on Rugby with Brian Lewis, Honorary Secretary of the Trinidad and Tobago RFU (T&TRFU).

Brian explained his main functions as Honorary Secretary of the T&TRFU "Responsible for the overall administration of the Game on a day to day basis. Ensuring that the decisions of the TTRFU Executive and Management Committee are implemented and executed."

"CEO role."

He highlighted the most important facet, given the time commitment Brian makes. "Please note it is unpaid/voluntary. We have contracted a CORPORATE Secretarial Service provider. They do the actual work. So I am able to direct, oversee etc. it works very well for us."

Rugby we find out is not a new game to the Islands as Brian points out "Rugby has been played in Trinidad and Tobago since 1922 - 23"

The game has a solid foundation in the country. "Currently, in senior rugby we have 11 clubs.Two have women teams. Six have under 19s. There are about 17 schools playing rugby. For an island of 1.3 million. Where football, cricket, track and field, basketball, hockey, swimming are more popular sports."

"We (rugby)have a good foundation to build on. Over the years we have been successful in changing the image of the sport. I should probably say perception from elitist, expat to a more mainstream sport. There is still the image that it is a dangerous and overly robust sport played by beer drinking miscreants that we have to work on.'

"The success of our National Rugby teams in the Caribbean over the years have allowed for a more serious view to be taken by Government and the media. Should rugby get on to the Olympic programme it will be a further boost. We have tremendous international potential in 7s rugby," explained Brian.

Just as in any sporting body across the globe there are issues that have to be dealt with and The T&TRFU is no exception " The biggest issue is lack of sufficient financial resources to really provide the kind of economies of scale and capacity building that will prove trans formative.'

"We do get an IRB grant for development but it just allows us to scratch the surface."

The Americas is now the only region in the world under The IRB that does not have an all encompassing tiered campaign now that Asia has develope their 5 nations. Does Brian see such a competition helping The T&TRFU?

"I would like to think so. But with Canada and USA fighting to elevate themselves from tier 2 IRB ranking. I am not confident such a competition will be a priority for the North Americans or the IRB."

"Let me say that the IRB may need to look at 7s rugby as a separate aspect. If this is done there some of the Caribbean countries have significant potential to do just as Kenya has done in 7s rugby." We can only concur.