Bermuda enjoyed a stellar Ariel Re Sevens tournament at the National Sports Centre over the weekend, with the host nation reaching the finals of both the high school and main events.
Corey Boyce scored a try for Bermuda’s Ariel Re All-Stars in the final of the main tournament, but it was not enough to prevent the home side from falling to a 33-5 defeat by a dominant Kutztown University side, while the high-schoolers succumbed to a 35-0 reverse to West Chester Boys, who, like Kutztown, hail from Pennsylvania.
“It was a complete and utter success for us” Bermuda Sevens coach Tom Healy said. “We took it to the next level, after playing in the third and fourth place game last year.
“Kutztown were the third-best university in the United States last year and we were out there competing against them. Not only were we competing against them, we also introduced three or four players into the squad who haven’t played for the senior team before. I couldn’t have asked for any more.”
Bermuda set up the Kutztown showdown after a thrilling 17-15 comeback victory over Saint Joseph’s University, from Philadelphia, in the semi-finals.
“We overcame Saint Joe’s when everything was against us,” Healy added. “We were down in the scoreline, we lost our captain and vice-captain, yet we still came back against all the odds to win and make the final.
“Stuff like that, you can’t train for, that’s just pure being a good team, playing for each other and having heart.”
As well as Boyce, Healy also mentioned Jaiquan Smith as having outstanding tournaments for the host nation.
“Jai, on the wing, really came into his own,” Healy said. “Corey is relatively new to rugby, he’s been playing for two or three seasons. He made his debut for the national team two or three years ago, went back to playing soccer and came back to rugby this year. He represented Bermuda and the Rugby Americas North Sevens in Trinidad in November and just took off from there. He’s one of the strongest and fastest players out there. He’s so aggressive on the ball, which is something we’ve lacked in the past.”
Patrick Calow, Bermuda Rugby’s youth development officer was impressed with the young players’ increasing maturity and picked out Cairi Albouy as one to watch after playing beyond his years at the North Field over the weekend.
“He’s not even 16 yet and was playing in the main final,” Calow said. “He’s 15 and for him to be in there is just really brilliant.”