AFTER two wins from two matches in the Rugby Americas North (RAN) Men’s 15s Tournament, TT’s perfect start may count for nothing, as funding issues may see the national team drop out of the competition.
TT are scheduled to visit Cayman Islands on Saturday in their final match in the Championship division but are well short of their budget to fund the trip. The total cost for the national men to travel to Cayman Islands is $240,000. Their financial struggle a big blow to the TT men who have been playing exciting and inspired rugby with two come-from-behind victories so far. TT edged Bermuda 27-24 at St Anthony’s College Ground in Westmoorings last month, before defeating USA South in a thriller 34-33 at St Mary’s College Ground in St Clair, last Saturday.
Coach Rhett Chee Ping said yesterday negotiations are in place to delay the match till the end of July for the latest.
“This weekend I think will be definitely out. Management is still meeting with who they have to this week to see if they could get funding, but I think this weekend would be out. They trying to get a later date (for the match). Cayman Islands are willing to (postpone the match), but it all boils down to the funding. If there is no funding then we can’t go,” he said.
TT must commit to the match by the end of June or early July. Chee Ping added, “We have gone to corporate TT, because I believe Sport Company said they did not have any money. Also the IRB, which is the International Rugby Board, they are also looking to see how they could support us. They are willing to assist to see how they could help us, whether it is with flights or hotel accommodation when we get there.”
Chee Ping said if TT can’t play the final match they will be disqualified. “It is extremely important (to go to Cayman Islands) because I believe if we don’t fulfil our fixture then we are basically disqualified, so those two wins will become null and void.”
Chee Ping hailed his team’s first two victories as the local players were short of match practice due to it being the local rugby offseason.
“It was a good showing. It is a little difficult for us right now, because we are not in season. The guys train a lot...our season does not start until two weeks time, so they not even playing for their clubs and it is kind of hard to put it into a game situation.” The TT Under-19 rugby team is also short of funding, and their trip to the RAN Under-19 tournament in July in Mexico is doubtful.