HEAD coach of the TT women’s rugby team Alexandria Olton is satisfied that her charges finished third at the 2022 Rugby Americas North (RAN) tournament at the University of the West Indies Mona Campus in Kingston, Jamaica.
The rugby event, which ended on Sunday, included a women’s and a men’s Under-19 tournament.
The TT women’s and men’s Under-19 teams finished third and sixth respectively.
The TT women lost 10-5 to Jamaica, defeated the Dominican Republic 7-0, lost 20-5 to USA South and got past Cayman Islands 25-12.
USA South were crowned women’s champions, Jamaica finished second, TT third, Cayman Islands fourth, the Dominican Republic fifth and St Lucia sixth.
The TT Under-19 men had a tough outing losing all their matches to end sixth in the six-team tournament.
Olton, speaking about the effort of her team, said, “I am incredibly proud of the team for the progress they have made in the short space of time that they have training together...we came together as a group to begin training in the second week of May and the tournament was in July.”
Olton described the third place finish as a “huge accomplishment” for the team.
“I think everyone showed great skill. We had some young players that really came into their own,” Olton said.
The TT coach highlighted two of the players who impressed her. “Our player to watch that we would have submitted to RAN is Deniqua Gordon. She really performed brilliantly at the tournament and as a young up-and-coming player, as well as Ketara Munroe. This was only her second national team tour and her first was only in April. She is a footballer who came over to rugby and the two of them have really demonstrated some great skills as young rugby players coming into their own.”
Olton is hoping the team will stay active in the coming months in preparation for future tournaments.
“We continue training (and) we are trying to arrange some friendlies with some of the teams that would have participated in the (RAN) tournament and hopefully we can go over or host them between now and early next year.”
There is a tournament in Grenada that the TT women may also compete in.
Giving details on TT’s performance, Olton said, “We would have been training a particular pattern of play specifically that was related to the 15s version of the game. The team would have showed a lot of discipline towards that pattern and utilise the pattern as a template and made good rugby decisions based on that.”
Olton said the players were committed to their tackles, demonstrated resilience and she was glad they had fun during the competition.
Speaking about the improvement she wants to see, Olton said, “I think it is just a matter of repetition, doing the good things that we did do more consistently because that will bring the success and the consistent success for the team. They showed what they are capable of. I have my expectations moving forward and we are going to work on defensive strategy a little bit more, develop the attacking strategy and the decision-making on the field to capitalise. I think we could score more tries because we did a lot of work on the field, but we did not capitalise on every try-scoring opportunity.”
Olton praised the TT men’s Under-19 team for their effort. She was satisfied with the “fight” they showed and believes in their “potential.”