The Cayman National Women’s team travelled to Cary, North Carolina for the North American and Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) Championships which, this year, also served as the Olympic Qualifiers for the region (meaning the inclusion of only the top 8 teams in the region, including World Series 5th place, USA).
As a result of the unavailability of a huge number of key players due to work, study and other such commitments, the women’s team went up with only 10 players, two short of a full squad.
What prevailed over the weekend took everyone by surprise as Cayman hit the ground running with a well fought win over Barbados in the opening games. The ladies went from that to finishing the day off with a fixture against Olympic favourites USA in the main stadium in front of a growing crowd out to support the home nation.
The ladies gave an incredible account of themselves, tactically taking on key areas of USA’s game plan in the scrum, kick-off and wide channel attack. Cayman managed to accomplish roughly 50% possession and limit USA to the lowest score they achieve in the entire competition while also being the first and only real threat to their defence in the tournament with some well worked set plays by Cassianne Lawrence and Shenel Gall leading to line breaks for the Cayman side. The team won the match and was praised by the USA head coach Ric Suggitt who stated that even the best teams in the world regularly fail to deal with their kick off tactics and he was excited to see what the future holds for Cayman women’s rugby.
The ladies entered day 2 with an elevated level of expectation and a goal set by coach Clancy to reach the shield final, improve from the experience thus far and provide the best opposition for a Guyana team who were racking up some big scores along their route to the final. The ladies pulled out another hard fought win in the semi-finals to reach their target of a shield final position.
The women entered the final as massive underdogs. Guyana got the first score showing the great pace they have across their team to put them 5-0 ahead. Cayman settled from the resulting kick-off and maintained possession and pressure with an error free performance. Two set play moves led to line breaks from crowd favourites Shenel Gall and Cassianne Lawrence leading to two tries for Cayman and a 12-10 victory to bring home the Shield title in what is Caymans first ever tournament as an all Caymanian squad.