Caymans thrive on amateur spirit despite defeats
Caribbean outfit lose to Hong Kong and Zimbabwe but are richer for their first experience in a big tournament
The all-amateur Cayman Islands team experienced a baptism of fire on the first day of their Hong Kong Sevens debut, but while any hopes they had of earning World Rugby Sevens Series core status have been well and truly extinguished, their enthusiasm has certainly not been doused.
Hosts Hong Kong inflicted a 43-0 hammering of the Caribbean outfit in their opening game, but an improved performance against Zimbabwe, where they went down 35-5, lifted the side’s spirits and they’ll go into their final pool E match against Germany on Saturday morning with the belief that they belong.
“We didn’t look after the basics against Hong Kong – we didn’t work to keep the ball, which is what all new teams on the block do,” said Richard “Grizz” Adams, who turned out for London-based Harlequins before becoming Cayman Islands coach in 2000.
“We did a much better job against Zimbabwe and we’ll move forward from here. But it’s an amazing event and it’s just such a huge thrill to be here.”
Cayman Islands skipper Mark Soto, who piled over in the corner to score their first – and so far only – try of the tournament against the Zimbabwean Cheetahs, agreed.
“We’ve never been in anything like this before and there were a lot of nerves. But we held it together better after that. The key for us is to control our rucks and play to our game plan.”
Soto, who will marry his Hong Kong-born fiancée next week at a ceremony on the Peak, received a huge cheer when he crossed for his score.
“It was the best moment of my life, which might get surpassed in a few days, but let’s see,” grinned Soto.
“The plan now is to try to stay relaxed but I think we’ll do pretty well against the Germans.”