In his first outing as national u19’s coach, Graeme Thomspon’s new look team coasted to its first series victory over a visiting US side from Narberth Pennsylvania.
Narberth, formally known at “the Otters” made the trip to the Islands to enjoy the local hospitality and rugby but were instead facing a 1st test in weather more akin to what would be seen in Narberth Wales let alone Narberth Pennsylvania. As tropical Storm Alex lashed Cayman with brisk winds and heavy rains any hope that the Cayman heat advantage which inevitably saps visiting sides of their strength and pace faded as it appeared the rugby gods may have favoured a more level playing field! Barring some early nerves from the Cayman Islands which created an opportunity for the Otters to earn the first points of the encounter it was a fairly easy afternoon for the Caymanians. The Caymanian forwards were very laid back in their approach to the game and were rarely threatened with turnovers at the break down. Further, Cayman lock and BPC Buccaneer Harrison Foster was able to steal the bulk of the Otter lineout ball. There was no lack of line outs to steal thanks to the pinpoint kicking of Cayman flyhalf Morgan Hayward who was able to pen the Otters in their half of the field with deep kicks time and time again.
Whilst there were a handful of familiar faces from the 2 time Caribbean Championship winning U19 side created by CRFU Technical Director Richard Adams and coach Steven Clarke such as Justin Wight and Taylor Wright it was young Hayward who marshalled the game and barring 1 missed penalty kick had his hand in all of Cayman’s 20 points on the day.
Cayman, known regionally for playing a forward dominated game was far happier to release the ball out after 1st phase ball to run at the Narberth backs who collectively had great difficulty in containing the faster and stronger Caymanians. The move away from a forward dominated game, whether intentional or not, made for a new brand of exciting rugby to watch rarely seen at this age level in the Caribbean.
The highlight for the visitors in the first test was a 10 minute phase of possession where Narberth drove over the line 3 times only to be denied a score by Cayman. Eventually the pressure paid off as Narberth managed to finally ground the ball for their second score of the day albeit for the protests from the Caymanians that the ball was held up in the try area a 4th time.
1st test final score Cayman 20-10 Narberth RFC
With only a day’s rest to review any failings it would normally be a big ask to turn a performance around and win a second outing against a more experienced team but having only lost by 10 points and knowing that with a good ball retention from the Narberth forwards who were showing a far greater interest in the game when compared to their Caymanian opposite numbers a win in the second test would be difficult but not impossible! It was however to be another easy day for Cayman. Albeit for some handy turnovers provided by the Narberth forwards against the Cayman pack who had gone from laid back in the 1st test to nearly horizontal in the 2nd test it was again the Morgan Hayward show in South Sound as yet more fantastic kicking in open play and sniping runs to open up gaps in the Narberth defence for players such as Sebastien Begot and Tom Mann to race across the try line and open up a 35 point lead before the final whistle!
A series win for Cayman was always on the cards considering that Narberth RFC has only been in existence since 2007 and this trip to Cayman was the clubs first taste of Rugby outside of the United States but at times the plucky Americans asked serious questions of Caymans desire to dominate all aspects of the game.
2nd test final score Cayman 40-5 Narberth RFC