A host of Bermuda players were handed a memorable opportunity after gracing the field in the first round of the inaugural World Tens Series.
A strong contingent of the island’s squad, including Aldo Campbell, Tashun DeSilva, Tom Heaton, Dan Cole, Thomas Greenslade, Darren Richardson, Trae Stevens, Alex Brown, James Annandale and Antonio Perinchief, were named among the Phoenix franchise with a number of their professional players still in quarantine protocol periods upon arrival.
As a result, the locally based players were given the chance to test themselves against some world-class names from the XV and seven-a-side codes of rugby, with their endeavours broadcast around the world on major networks Sky Sports and ESPN.
“It’s amazing to be able to experience another level of international rugby and mix it with a host of professional players from around the world,” Cole said. “It was a great opportunity.
“There were a few nerves when we first went out there on to the pitch, seeing the size of some of the guys and knowing their backgrounds. Rugby can be a good leveller, but it’s great to have the chance to be involved and have that experience.”
Cole added: “They’ll have those professionals back next week, so for us it was just these first two days, but we’re extremely grateful for the opportunity. Hopefully, we supported the squad and put on a good show.”
While their inclusion in the tournament proved temporary, Cole believes the experience for the local players can be beneficial for Bermuda when their own international programme resumes.
He said: “We’ve played a lot of good-level rugby before, especially within our sevens team, but to be able to play against the standard of these guys, some of whom are Olympic-level, is incredible exposure and experience for us.
“Hopefully, we can take this experience into our own internationals when the Rugby Americas North tournament resumes and build on this when those games return.
“Whatever happens, it’s great for Bermuda to have this tournament here. Hopefully, it can continue to grow in the years to come and help build the profile of rugby on island.”