The Bermuda men’s sevens rugby team produced their best showing in 12 years on the way to earning the bronze medal at the Rugby Americas North 7s tournament that concluded in Barbados yesterday.
Bermuda beat Mexico 24 -7 in the third-place play-off to claim the final spot on the men’s podium and also avenge a 17-14 defeat by the defending champions in a pool play.
“To come third in the tournament is a big bonus for everyone,” Waisale Serevi, the Bermuda coach, told The Royal Gazette.
“It has been amazing and I’m so happy and so excited about where we finished this year.
“That is where we want to go, up another level, and I congratulate the boys for working really hard and putting their bodies on the line.”
Bermuda won two of their three pool C matches and then beat Trinidad & Tobago 26-19 in the quarter-final to advance to the last four of the tournament for the first time in a decade.
Bermuda went down 14-5 against Jamaica in the semi-final, which dashed the island’s hopes of qualifying for either the Hong Kong 7s or the Pan Am Games.
“We targeted to win and it was a disappointing loss in a close game with Jamaica in the semi-finals but to beat Mexico in the way that we played, to do that everybody is elated,” Neville Zuill, the team manager, said.
Serevi added: “We lost in the semi-final but the boys came back stronger, beating the winners of last year’s tournament.
“We lost to them in the pool game but learnt from our mistakes and came back today and beat them, and beat them well.”
Jonathan Cassidy, the assistant coach, is delighted to see the players reaping the benefit of years of “hard work”.
He said: “We have been working hard for a number of years, and the standard of play, our discipline in implementing our patterns and our self-belief just went up another level today,” he said.
“I have been involved in over 20 years and it was definitely the proudest moment winning that third-place game.”
Zuill added: “The performance today was just the final step proving that the structure that we put in place for the last few months is what we want to continue with and what we can use to continue to go forward. We’re all elated.”
Also improving upon their previous showing at the event were Bermuda’s women, who finished eighth overall with their best moment arriving in a 49-0 triumph over Curaçao in pool B.
“This year we placed much higher than we did last year,” Lauren Rothwell, the Bermuda team player, said.
“In our pool we had the two favourites, which were Jamaica and Trinidad, so it was a tough pool to play against, but we did as we had expected.
“We are in a year of transition and have brought along several youth players who got ample game time.
“We improved throughout the tournament and are happy with the overall result.”