The national Rugby squad will be entering unchartered territory on Saturday when they face off against Mexico for the title of North America and Caribbean Rugby (NACRA) Champions, on the St Mary’s College Ground in St Clair. The annual championship decider pits the Northern pool champions against the winners of the Southern pool; TT, the recently-crowned Southern champions, and Mexico, their northern counterparts, have never met on a rugby field.
Mexico have produced impressive scores in winning their first Northern Championship; they outscored the USA South 50-25 in Mexico in early March, and followed with a 24-3 win over the Cayman Islands in Grand Cayman. TT started with a 44-7 rout of Barbados, and edged Guyana 22-20 to claim the Southern title.
Rugby fans can expect to see improvements in the home team. Following their win over Guyana, concerns were raised about the TT’s problems in handling the ball under pressure. National team head coach Larry Mendez said he would be working on the players’ physicality and composure, among other things. Additionally, TTRFU president Leslie Figaro said yesterday that TT were able to obtain a copy of the Mexican win over the Cayman Islanders. “We watched it, and we are structuring our game to counteract their strengths,” he told Newsday.
Plans to have the match played at the Hasely Crawford Stadium were stymied because of a Masters Track and Field event booked for the same day; however, Figaro believes the St Mary’s Ground could work to their advantage because of the closeness of the pavilion and the fact that spectators on the ground will be close to the action, just as it was when they defeated Guyana on the Fatima College Ground.
The Match Referee and one Touch Judge will be from the Cayman Islands, while the other will be a Guyanese; the game is scheduled to kick off at 3 pm.
TT team (from): Adam Frederick (Captain), Samuel Roberts, Travis Carmichael, Kareem Figaro, Wayne Kelly, Samuel Skeete, Joseph Quashie, Akiel Smith, Shakeer Flemming, Andrew Taylor, Ernest Wright, Jerome Poon Tip, Kirby Hosang, Felician Guerra, Agboola Silverthorn, Anderson Joseph, Keshorn Walker, Andre Cabrera, Andrew Welch, Jamal Clark, Jesse Richards, Johnason Alleyne, Aason Lewis, James Phillip, Christopher Hudson, Jonathon O’Connor, Brandon Goodridge.
Coach: Larry Mendez
Assistant Coaches: Dale Trotman, Willett Pantor
Manager: Ronald Annandsingh
Fitness Coordinator: Derek Ashby-Williams
Physiotherapist: Kemba Noel-London