Rugby fraternity chips in to defray cost of player’s heart surgery

Rugby player about to score as he drags defenders over the line

By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway

Members of the BVI Rugby Football Union and CrossFit, turned Brandywine Bay Beach into a Rugby Festival and fitness center on Sunday, as they held one in a series of fundraising events, as part of their goal to raise $20,000, to assist national Rugby player Kenrick Thomas, who will have heart surgery on January 20.

The event attracted school, corporate and national Rugby players and included coed teams.   

Thomas, 23, who has been playing Rugby since he was 14, last represented the BVI in Santo Domingo in 2019 and has played throughout the Caribbean and Central America, in various competitions.  

Thomas told Island Sun Sports it brought him so much joy seeing the number of people who were on the beach playing Rugby, from school children through adults doing sports and cross fit activities. He said it has always been his dream to have as many people playing the sport he loves. It was in March just before the lockdown, that he said that he discovered the problem with his heart. 

“I broke my ribs at the beginning of the year and while I was recovering and giving my body a rest, I felt a pain in my heart,” he said, thinking it was an overused injury. “Then my wife said I should go to the hospital and better be safe than sorry, so when I did, they doctor said you really have a big problem.”

It was discovered that the 23-year old has Ventricular or Atrial Septal Defect (VSD/ASD), which needs surgery to correct. He said when he revealed it to his teammates, they were saddened, but then spurned into action to assist him. He’s now looking to have the problem resolved during January 20, 2021 surgery in Puerto Rico and getting back on the pitch after recovery and rehabilitation and continue the sport he loves the most.

“I do want to play, but it give me so much joy seeing all these people coming together, because it’s something you want to see since BVI doesn’t have many things to keep you occupied and busy,” Thomas who was score keeping before joining a kids game said. “Seeing them enjoying this, doing this—I didn’t want it being for me, but at least it’s happening—so much people coming together from CrossFit and Rugby, and boxing who’s also doing something, it’s tremendous.”

Having represented the BVI in Rugby Americas North on several occasions, in St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Puerto Rico and Mexico among others, Thomas said it would mean the world to him to recover and play again. 

“Especially because I have all this support. All the people here know me and believe in me, so once I get the problem fixed, I’m going to come back and give my best as I always do, more than 110%,” he said. “So, I’m going to bring the win home. That’s all I want to do, go and bring a victory.”

Thomas joined kids in a short game of Rugby and afterwards commended them on their play. 

Niiall Brooks, BVI Rugby Football Union President, said the funds they are raising will supplement National Health Insurance coverage. He said the beach pitch they used for the function was a courtesy of their corporate sponsors. Based on the success of Sunday’s event, Brooks said they’ll be hosting quarterly beach events to raise funds for worthy causes.

“We’re going to do cross fit, beach volleyball, beach Rugby, hopefully get the sailing school down and they can use the ocean and have beach games every quarter in the BVI,” he said. 
“If we can raise money every time for a valid cause, it could be Family Support Network, who BVI Rugby works with on a regular basis as well, whether it’s Kenrick, once it can benefit the local community as well, we’ll be doing it.”