Entornointeligente.com / Jamaica Rugby Union President Jerry Benzwick says the national men and women’s rugby sevens teams have been faced with contrasting situations in their preparation for the World Rugby Seven Repacharge tournament, which is the final chance for Olympic qualification.
The tournament will be staged in Monaco on June 19-20.
Jamaica men’s team will be in a 10-team tournament, with two groups of five, and the women in a 12-team competition, with three groups of four.
While the majority of Jamaica men’s players are based in the United Kingdom and have been preparing well for their assignment, the mostly local-based female team has not had a training session together since the COVID-19 pandemic forced a ban on all local sporting activities back in March 2020.
With only few weeks to go before the ‘Lady Crocs’ play their opening game, Benzwick said that their failed efforts to get the Government’s approval for a training camp is a disheartening setback.
“With the men, most of our players are based in the UK. They have been training and have been putting in the work. We also get help with the coaching aspect of our team from some good coaches over there and our boys are pretty much ready,” said Benzwick.
“The local players that will join the group, they are also 120 per cent fit, so for both groups, their fitness level is amazing and it is the best shape the team has ever been in,” he added.
TEAM SCATTERED “The majority of girls are local and that is one of the reasons why we haven’t been able to get in any training sessions. At the moment, the team is scattered,” Benzwick lamented. “The issue we are having is that the government ministries are taking very long with our return-to-sport document so [that] we can train.”
Benzwick argued that even though the Government is burdened by the numerous return-to-play proposals from the various sporting bodies, the fact that they are heading into an Olympic qualification tournament, they should have been given some level of priority.
“We have an Olympic qualification tournament and I don’t think the document for the approval of a sport should take three months. I know the ministries have a lot on their plate and I understand the pressure. But if the team is trying to qualify for the Olympics, I think that should be given some level of priority, definitely. It is a disheartening situation, but we are determined to go forward and take on the challenge,” said Benzwick.
Jamaica’s women team is grouped with Papua New Guinea, Tunisia and Khazakistan, and Benzwick believes it’s an open group, where anybody can advance and preparation would have put them in a better position to execute.
“This is one of our best chance to qualify for the Olympics. Three years from now it is going to be even more difficult to qualify, so this was our best shot … it’s kind of disheartening to know that we haven’t gotten approval and we cannot go into camp,” he said.
Meanwhile, despite the men having better preparation going into the tournament, Benzwick said their road to qualification will be much tougher.
“The men will have a harder task than the women. They will be up against three professional teams in France, Hong Kong and Chile, along with Uganda,” he pointed.
“We know we can beat Uganda, but it will be hard to beat Chile, so too France and Hong Kong. But if we bring our A game it is still anybody’s day, and all it takes is one mistake from one of those giants,” he said.
The two finalists from the female tournament will qualify for the Olympics, while only the winner of the men’s competition will advance to Tokyo.
LINK ORIGINAL: Jamaica Gleaner