Summer rugby lights blue touch paper

| 08/07/2013

rugby ball.jpg(CRFU): The start of a new touch rugby summer season always brings great anticipation and this year has already broken records – more teams than ever before (29 in total), and more players too, around four hundred. Touch rugby is undoubtedly one of the biggest participation sports in the Cayman Islands. The KRyS GLOBAL Summer Mixed Touch Rugby League 2013 has three Divisions of differing standards and abilities but the emphasis from the Cayman Islands Rugby Club is all about participation, competition and enjoyment for all. Each Division sees a host of new teams and the Club is keen that all feel welcomed into rugby family.  So light the blue “touch” paper, sit back and enjoy the first round highlights.

DIVISION 1 kicked off with a titanic battle between the two teams from last year’s Grand Final – Maples1 and SteppingStones. Just like the infamous cruise-liner the previously thought unsinkable Maples1 hit a solid, immoveable and ice-cold SteppingStones on this maiden voyage into their summer season.  The result ended in Maples1 sinking to defeat and resting near the bottom of the league table, although happily all aboard survived to tell the tale in the bar.

Captain Marty Livingston loyally went down with his ship, Riley Mullen dancing around like a dervish in the hold and Mike McGrath orchestrating the band on deck all in the forlorn knowledge that they were going down. The usually efficient Maples1 attack looked largely impotent and the early season cobwebs will need to be brushed away quickly as the quality in this division gets higher year on year.

Conversely in the initial exchanges it looked, in spite of SteppingStones’ star-studded line up, that the R.M.S. Maples1 might win the argument with that iceberg. The crew maybe getting older and slower but Scott MacDonald showed a lively pair of heels to break through for the opening score. This try was only to be bettered by the Try of the Day when new recruit Biancca Johnson wonderfully side-stepped and blew past Maples1’s speedster Jyoti Choi to level the scores.

Tries were in short supply as each team was quick in attack but often quicker in defence. This highly competitive game kept referee Mat Bishop on his toes as at times it seemed that there were several other people on the pitch who thought they could ref it better than he. They were wrong of course. The ref’s word is final. The teams traded scores in a tight affair.

Despite her early wonder-try Johnson was having an off-day with dropped balls and missed passes. Her redemption came in the second half with a break that sucked in defensive markers before she beautifully floated a pass over opposition heads for Steve Henshaw to gratefully collect the pass and drop to the floor for the score.

Morgan Shelver gave SteppingStones the lead from a pass that looked deceptively forward before adding a second to make the game 5-3. His overall performance showed that he’s going to be a real force in the league this season. 

It’s true that the league cannot be won in June but the ‘Stones have slapped their fiercest rivals in the face and given them a bloody nose. The challenge has been set. How will the other teams in the league now respond?  Iceberg 1 Titanic 0.

Island Air may be a new name to the Summer Touch League but the faces on the playing roster are very familiar. In other guises they have made various finals and even won touch tournaments so must be taken as serious challengers for the Division 1 title. In their game against Genesis Five Nations, they looked cohesive and have a try threat across the team. Brandon Smith looked good for his hat-trick but it was Ellie Kerr who caught the eye with her nifty footwork and speed of travel over the turf.

Chris Brussow had a great debut for Genesis scoring two tries. Mind you, if you will wear yellow boots then you have to put on a bit of a show don’t you? The final score of 8-5 to Island Air will have them flying high after round 1.

Maples2 ran out for a fine victory over Harmonic with star performer Marc Randall scoring a fine trio of tries and setting up a couple of others, at least that what he told me. Smouldering Justin Colgan got 2 as did Dave Acutt. Harmonic’s new boy Alastair Lum and old boy Rob Aspinall also got a pair each but it was not enough as Maples2 ran out 7-6 winners.

DIVISION 2 will be highly competitive this year and there are a few teams that will have designs on the title. The stand-out performance in the league came from Broadhurst. Carrying on the good form of 2012 and with some notable new recruits Broadhurst played hard committed touch rugby. Containing a number of players from the senior men’s rugby competition, the Alex Alexander Trophy, these guys have fast hands, fast rugby brains, and wheels to burn. They are also highly motivated and very competitive.

Dave Acutt had a star performance and the stand-out moment was his burst down the touchline to score from halfway, topped off with a flamboyant full length dive, soaring through the air like a Breekoperand Martial Eagle (one of South Africa’s largest raptors) to score. This guy clearly has an eye for the spectacular. New boy Shaun Hardcastle has also some real rugby pedigree and opened his account with two tries, Roz Glanfield and Kate Macpherson also got on the scoresheet, along with Richard Lewis and the vocal Jason Scarff. His ability to co-ordinate the plays whilst operating at dummy half helped the team go forward and brought his teammates into the play.

In a new trophy this year, the “Del”Cup, last year’s Champions Deloitte scored a thumping 9-0 win over the newly promoted Delta. Spreading the tries around the team it was Kate Cilliers and Bryan MacLaughlin who both waded in with two tries a piece that made the telling scores.

Walkers, one of the longest serving teams in Cayman touch rugby, started their campaign with a stuttering 4-2 win over UBS. Early season mistakes are inevitable as players get back into the game after a few months break. Paul Smith scored a brace but it was the performance of Jacky Rowland, in her return from retirement that caught the eye. Usually, a returning player may hang on the fringes of play as they get re-familiarized with the sport. Not Jacky though. Clearly her policy was to get into the thick of it straight away and was often seen as dummy-half or first receiver doing the hard yards. Jason Windsor scored two for UBS.

Two new teams to the league faced off as Travel Pros Ticklers took on the Village Greenies and received a bit of a pasting too. The final score of 7-1 maybe flattered the Greenies a touch but this team, full of players from the cricket team of the same name, should know a thing or two about catching and throwing a ball around. The Ticklers weren’t laughing as Captain Wiki Hitchman led the way with a double and husband and wife duo Dicky and Karen Sawle-Thomas as well as Matthew Walker, Nick Quin and Andrew Dean also troubled the scorers with a quick single each.

Cara Hennessy scored a great solo try for Travel Pros as she outstripped the defence with a long sprint for the touch line. Given it was her first game in two years this was a special moment for her. Zolfo Cooper beat DART 6-3. Katherine Maw continued her fine form of last year with two great tries and Joel Edwards also got a brace.

DIVISION 3 saw a big win for GCM gives them an early season smile in what is a division all about smiles. Division 3 is designed as the social division to help introduce players to the sport of touch rugby and the emphasis is on enjoying the game no matter what the result. Wins for EFG Bank, KPMG2, and DMS show the importance of having initials in your team name if you want to be a success at this level.

DIVISION 3 Results:
Appleby 3 Trident 1
Queensgate Grizz’s Old Fellas 3 EFG Bank 7
Rawlinson & Hunter 3 Ogier 3
Ernst & Young 2 KPMG2 3

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  1. Anonymous says:

    brings a new element to sports writing thats for sure.