Bermuda’s Sevens teams’ dreams of competing at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo were dashed yesterday after the men’s and women’s team finished fourth and sixth respectively at the Rugby Americas North competition in the Cayman Islands.
As well as regional glory, this year’s tournament served as a regional qualifying event for next year’s Olympic Games, with the top men’s team securing automatic qualification to Tokyo, while the top two women’s teams and second and third place men’s teams would secure qualification for the World Rugby Olympic Repechage tournament hosted in Monte Carlo in 2020, with further Olympic places up for grabs.
For the men’s team in particular, it was to prove a devastating outcome as they missed booking their spot at the repechage tournament by just a single place, having suffered a 50-0 defeat against Mexico in the men’s third and fourth-place match, where victory would have kept their Olympic aspirations alive.
After a notable third-place finish in 2018, Bermuda’s men’s team were handed a tough pool consisting of Canada, Mexico and Barbados. The magnitude of their task was evident after the first encounter as they suffered a 31-0 defeat at the hands of Mexico.
They responded in the perfect fashion by clinching a hard-fought 17-5 victory over Barbados, but followed that up by suffering an emphatic 55-0 defeat against Canada in their final pool match.
Despite enduring mixed fortunes, Bermuda had done enough to progress through to the quarter-finals where they were drawn against Trinidad and Tobago. There Bermuda battled to a narrow 7-5 success to stand just one game away from a place in the finals.
However, in the final four stage, Bermuda were faced with the task of beating Canada and just as they had in the pool stages, they were to prove no match for their counterparts as Canada matched their victory from their previous meeting, easing to a 55-0 success.
That left Bermuda with in the third and fourth place play-off and with one final chance to keep their Olympic hopes intact, however, it was not to be as the Central American opposition proved too strong, leaving the men’s team to settle for a fourth-place finish overall.
Much like the men’s team, Bermuda’s women’s team kicked off their campaign with a defeat, going down 55-0 to Jamaica in their opening match, before following that up with another setback, losing 37-0 against Mexico.
However, there a moment to remember for the women’s team, as they secured a well-deserved 15-10 victory over Bahamas. Unfortunately that was as good as it got for Bermuda who finished their pool stage with two further defeats, going down 27-0 to both St Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago.
That left Bermuda in the fifth and sixth place play-off against Bahamas, but the women’s team could not recreate their previous victory against the same opposition, as they slipped to a 22-5 defeat.
“It was a tough tournament but overall a really positive one looking forward,” Jamie Barnwell, the Bermuda national coach, said.