By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Following a 22-15 victory over hosts St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Saturday, the British Virgin Islands Men’s Rugby team is unbeaten in the North American Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) South Cup Zone League play at 2-0.
The victory avenged a 24-22 loss in the late stages of last year’s match after leading 17-8 at the A. O. Shirley Recreation Grounds. The BVI drew first blood when Joseph Smith scored, but St. Vincent and the Grenadines equalized shortly thereafter to make it a 5-5 game at halftime.
“This was an important victory for the BVI team and we are very happy that we won the game,” coach Sherlock “Solo” Solomon said. “It was tough as ever and I think the team stuck to the task and we came out successful.”
The BVI, bolstered by the return of Austin Keil, Rowry Thornton and Donovan Staples to the lineup after being absent during the opening victory over St. Lucia, saw Keil making the game 10-5 in the second half, after they failed a conversion kick.
Further tries from Thornton—a former U19 Captain—and Viveon Harry helped the BVI seal the victory.
“With Keil, Thornton and Stables, our backline was tougher this time around but we had some concerns with the forward line before the match,” Solomon noted. “But, everything came together in this game.”
Solomon said fitness has been a major concern for the team as some players are only available for 2-3 days of training because of commitments. “But, the guys have come to realize that you need fitness for international Rugby,” he stated. “It was very pleasing to see some of the younger guys going to the gym and running on hills so the fitness level was a lot better than before.”
The BVI is scheduled to play Curacao at 3 p.m. on May 2 but Solomon is uncertain if the game will be played at the A. O. Shirley Recreation Grounds, which has been in a state of disrepair and forced them to play their first encounter in St. Lucia last month. “I’m not too certain where the match is going to be played because we still haven’t gotten the go ahead,” Solomon pointed out. “Our plan B was to try and get the match over in Virgin Gorda, so I guess the forces involved in that will decide on that in two weeks time. But, the game has to be played. The Shirley Ground is the bigger ground and a better ground to play on. We’d like the international game played there, but the ground situation is not under our control. The game has to be played so we have to get a venue to play the match.”
A home victory over Curacao will pit the BVI against the loser of Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago or Guyana division in their next encounter