Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 2nd 2014 Contents A60
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, January 2, 2014
Larry Mendez, coach of the T&T
men s senior rugby sevens team
says the time is right for a new
wave of education on and about
the sport to begin locally.
His comments come on the heels
of the senior men s rugby sevens
triumph over their cricket and hock-
ey counterparts for the prestigious
Team of the Year title at last Sat-
urday s Spirit of Sport Awards held
at Queen s Hall in St Ann s, Port-
While the award would serve to
bolster positive attitudes about the
sport within the fraternity, he said,
winning new audiences was integral
to the growth of the sport.
Therefore, the advancement in
the skills set of athletes, he said,
must not take place without a con-
scious move to educate the public
on the beauty of rugby in light of
the national squad s SOSA achieve-
"This is a surprising accomplish-
ment! The feat of the senior men s
rugby team will encourage the squad
to train harder and do better because
we know that we have the backing
of the fraternity, the Sport Company
and T&T on the nation on a whole.
nationwide spread of the game, so
that there is more participation in
the game. At the end of it, we have
more (players) to choose from. At
the moment, when you look at other
countries in the world, they have
thousands (of athletes) to choose
from. We have just a few," said
Partnering with the T&T Rugby
Football Union (TTRFU) and Elite
Development and Performance Unit
at the Sport Company, headed by
Tobias Ottley, said Mendez, has
made a tremendous change in the
team s approach.
Testimony of this, the head coach
said, was accurately represented in
the tournaments the ruggermen were
"Without the Sport Company, I
think, we would not have gotten
where we are at the moment. And
I think there is a bigger buy-in by
the athletes now in rugby. They (are)
beginning to understand what high
performance is and I think while it
is well taken on board, we still have
leaps and bounds to go," said
He added: "What we re able to
do as we have a more scientific
approach to strengthening and con-
ditioning, nutrition...you find that
the athletes are more motivated.
Rugby is a really high performance
type of game. The cutting edge is
where we need to go and the Sport
Company has been able to provide
that for us."
Mendez, who signed on for
national duty back in April 2012 said
the entire camp was going through
positive transitions with the ultimate
goal of putting T&T on the world
stage in this sporting discipline.
Fitness, he said, was still an issue
in the camp, but even so, what made
the difference for T&T at the North
American and Caribbean Rugby
Association Tournament (NACRA)
held earlier this year was the mental
elevation of local athletes.
"I m not saying that we played
necessarily better rugby than we did
last year, but the will to not give up
and to go and get the job done was
amazing. I think creating competition
with anything you do, can only get
better," said Mendez.
Expanding his ideas for the growth
of rugby, he said he was convinced
that any campaign towards this end
should start at the community level.
The nation s schools, said Mendez,
should be the prototype for this
aspect of development, but it was
up to stakeholders to get on board
for this vision to be realised.
"The way to go about community
stuff is we need to get in there,
coaches and parents as well, so when
we leave, there is something sus-
tainable happening. We have just a
few people doing that kind of work
and the progress is not happening
as fast as it should. We need all
resources from all the stakeholders
and from there I could see that the
spread of the game would augur well
for us in the future," he said.
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SPORTT has helped to lift rugby says coach
Carlton Felix, head coach of the
Royalians RFC, is putting rivals
on notice that his club is again
on the rise to reclaim the number
ranking in T&T.
He said the 2013 season was a
good year, noting there were huge
improvements from his athletes to
the credit of the Royalians brand.
Felix said Royalians at every level
were not simply working hard, but
were representing the legendary
team with pride, which was a clear
indicator that the club was
undoubtedly well on its way to
once again becoming the number
one rugby club in T&T.
But even so, it was the women s
teams that for now best demon-
strates the Royalians might.
"Our women s team continues
to be as dominant as ever; once
again winning the national league
and knock-out competition(s) and
playing undefeated in both com-
petitions. This was done having
nine first time players in the squad
and losing six of our national play-
ers to injuries and other personal
commitments. But the news play-
ers, though, have worked very hard
to fill the gaps left and have done
so brilliantly," Felix said.
He added, "We also have a dom-
inating presence in the national
women s team with seven of the
twelve players selected from Roy-
alians. They were only able to com-
pete in one sevens tournament,
the Police sevens, which we won.
For the other tournaments, the
national women s team participat-
ed and this robbed us of the service
of a number of our players. I guess
sometimes that is the price we pay
for the success of our team."
Felix lauded the consistent climb
of the men s team recognising the
glaring improvements attained this
year and adding to the club s overall
It started off, he said, when six
of its male players--an increase of
two from the following year--being
selected for the national senior
team which placed second in the
Caribbean Rugby Championships.
Even though their performance
in the league round of competition
went like a see-saw, Felix said the
overall improvements did not go
"We managed to finish fourth,
a step up from fifth place that we
managed last year and we also
made it to the semifinals of the
Royalians put rivals on notice
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PHOTO: ANDRE ALEAXNDER
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