Sean Field-Lament remains hopeful that Bermuda men’s rugby team will get the opportunity to finally play their Americas Rugby Challenge play-off against Cayman Islands despite the continuing uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Having beaten Guadeloupe 33-10 in the Rugby Americas North Championship final last September — to be crowned Caribbean champions for the first time since 2012 — Bermuda were gearing up to host Cayman Islands early this year for a spot in the Americas Rugby Challenge, a four-team round-robin tournament for nations below the region’s flagship Americas Rugby Championship.
Victory against Cayman Islands, who finished last in the tournament, would have seen Bermuda facing the proposition of stiff competition from South America, including Colombia and Paraguay, and Mexico.
However, with the disruption to worldwide sporting calendar, Rugby Americas took the decision to suspend the 2020 Americas Rugby Championship and Americas Rugby Challenge, senior and under-20 competitions respectively, in their present format.
“Rugby Americas have put most if not all tournaments in abeyance until there’s some clarity on the Covid-19 front,” Field-Lament, the president of the Bermuda Rugby Football Union, said. “This includes the women’s and men’s sevens tournament, which was due to be in Barbados, and the usual youth tournament in Bahamas.
“Unfortunately, it also still includes the play-off game between Cayman Islands and Bermuda for entry into the Americas Rugby Challenge tournament.”
Rugby Americas North, in a correspondence with all its Caribbean unions that are full members of World Rugby, has confirmed the 2021 Americas Rugby Challenge is scheduled to go ahead next June. For that to happen, all outstanding competitions have to be concluded, including Bermuda’s play-off against Cayman Islands.
The Americas Rugby Challenge will be part of a ten to 12-day tournament, with a new format and destination to be confirmed.
Should they beat Cayman Islands, Field-Lament did not rule out the possibility of Bermuda being a possible host. A big selling point is the success of the inaugural World Tens Series this month and the island’s comparatively low level of Covid-19 transmission.
Field-Lament concedes the sheer weight of the pandemic’s impact and logistics to do with finance could still make it difficult to entice travelling teams to Bermuda.
He said: “We are holding out hope that we can have international fixtures this season, including the Cayman Islands play-off and a match against Gibraltar. We shall see; a lot can happen from now until next May.
“Anything is possible [in relation to Bermuda hosting the Americas Rugby Challenge], but it’s probably too expensive for the South American nations to come all the way up here via the United States.
“Covid-19 plays a huge part both for and against in terms of being able to reach us. Bermuda is looked upon as a safe ’bubble’ once you clear tests, but in reality, as things stand, teams would have to come up here for at least three weeks, which makes it expensive.”