Tom Healy believes the island’s men’s rugby team are back on an upward trajectory towards former glory, citing new head coach Jamie Barnwell as the catalyst in transforming the Bermuda Rugby Football Union.
The BRFU went under a restructure in February with Barnwell taking the reins of the men’s 15s team, alongside his women’s sevens duties, both on a voluntary basis, while the experienced Healy continued in his role as coach of the men’s sevens team.
The restructure has already had an immediate impact as Bermuda got off to the perfect start in their quest to become Carribean champions, with a convincing 43-14 victory over Jamaica in their Rugby Americas North Championship campaign opener, at North Field, National Sports Centre, on Saturday.
Healy, who scored a hat-trick of tries in the win, was quick to direct all of the credit to Barnwell, who he believes already had a major effect on the sport across all areas of the union.
“Jamie Barnwell has completely transformed this team,” said Healy immediately after the victory. “The attitude, the structure, the enjoyment, everything you are seeing at the moment from this team all goes down to the head coach.
“He’s not just transformed Bermuda’s men’s rugby but women’s rugby too, this is the guy who deserves all the credit for what is happening with rugby in Bermuda.
“Jamie’s involvement has made all the difference. The structure is there and the new coach is maximising what he has and getting the best out of everyone.
“We haven’t won a game in a long time at this level, so we weren’t anticipating such a comfortable victory or expecting any such outcome in all honesty.
“This just shows you that if everyone buys into what has been put in place we can turn over good teams.
“You could see that every player had complete faith and belief in the structure put in place. You can see the type of results that can be achieved when there is a proper structure in place and that can only help us develop as a team.”
Bermuda previously won the Rugby Americas North Championship in 2012, when they successfully defended the title they won a year previously. Healy was part of that squad and, looking ahead to their next fixture against the winner of Guyana and Guadeloupe, the scrum-half is adamant the team are back on the right track to return to former success.
“We are by no means a finished product, but the Jamaica game was the first rung of the ladder to get back to where we should be,” he added.
“We have struggled for a long time and been in a downward spiral for years. That plateaued last year where we had a couple of narrow defeats to the Cayman Islands and Trinidad.
“Now we are on the upward trajectory again it’s great to see. I was here when we were the best side in the region and I was here when we’ve been one of the worst.
“Now we are seeing that turn again and if we can all stay committed then there is no reason why we can’t get back to where we once were.
“We can absolutely go all the way to the top and achieve some big things again.”