JERRY Charles is set to become the most-capped player in the history of Rugby in Saint Lucia. This will happen at the next opportunity the Saint Lucia Rugby Football Union (SLRFU) has when it stages its Rugby 10s tournament.
The tournament was postponed amidst the Covid-19 pandemic now sweeping the nation which has resulted in 142 recorded cases and one death.
A reserve individual, Jerry is standing at 5 feet 9 inches and weighing 180 pounds, he is not someone who can easily go unnoticed on the pitch as he is still far from calling it quits. He was introduced to the sport in July of 1999 by deceased fire fighter Nash Duplesis.
On the pitch, he can best be described as a “Magician”. He has claimed a string of Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards and has scored an undisclosed number of tries in a record number of outings both for the National team and Rogues Rugby Club, but has also played for other teams at the regional and international level throughout his career.
Not only is he a great and completely intuitive rugby player, but he has a great rugby brain, and has given Rugby the service that it truly deserves. Apart from Rugby, he is an accomplish Basketballer, an average football player, and if you didn’t know last year, he was captain of the male netball team.
His winning try against Renegades rugby team in the final of the 7s to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat with seconds to go on the clock was the prime example of his prowess. Jerry loves his time as coach, player, mentor, disciplinarian and captain of the undisputed three-peat champions, Rogues.
From the outside looking in, it’s a struggle to remember a player who has made that type of impact in local rugby. He can be a massive weapon for Team Saint Lucia playing at the regional and international level once he meets the selection criteria.
This reporter spoke to Jerry about his rugby journey with Rogues and more, to include his current profession as a fire-fighter. This is what he said.
“We started off as Stingers with the VBCC club when we branched off from being a single team of the Saint Lucia Rugby Football Union (SLRFU). I was then tasked with dividing all rugby players and placing them under clubs to begin the process by the president at the time, Colvis Samuels”.
“Colvis started the structure locally because there was a change around the region and in order to show growth and to coincide with World Rugby Union (WRU) and for Saint Lucia to qualify for grants and grow with the changes in IRB structure, we needed to have clubs and show growth in development of rugby on the island”.
VOICE: How did it all start for you sports wise?
“To cope with staying fit and fight my inner demons from the stress of work I engaged in sports, got involved in Karate with Bushido Academy; Basket ball with VBCC from age 13 years; Football and then Rugby. I had to be fit and I had to work hard to maintain a level above the normal life. Very early in the community of La Clery everyone was super competitive so we got up early, ran the circuit, ran the stairs by the bridge by the UWP Constituency office”.
He continued, “Growing up in the community, we looked up to individuals like Marcellus Stiede, Marcus George, Earl Jean and Big Dean just to name a few, all were national players at one time in their respective sporting discipline; there was just an abundance of talent and competitiveness so you had to train to get to their level and better”.
Like many others before him, Jerry came from a sporting family to include national Volleyball Queen, Carol Faucher; 1996 Olympian – Maxim Charlemagne; OECS Boxing Champion – Guy Lawrence and junior Volleyball player Skye Faucher – Mondesir, Skye represented Saint Lucia at the FIVB Under 21 World Championship in Cyprus 2014 and Olympic Youth Games in Nanjing, China 2014.
When asked about his sporting achievements to date his reply was, “Hold many club and individual trophies. All the clubs I have been a part of have been Champions. VBCC stingers our first year wewon every club tournament for both male and female. The following year I branched out and formed my own club, Rogues and up till now we have only lost one tournament to Whiptails in 2018 and since then has not lost any tournament”.
Awards started coming in 1999 when Jerry copped the MVP at the Carnival 7s tournament; in December of the same year he travel to Martinique for another tournament and for his outstanding performance throughout he was awarded the MVP of the tournament.
According to Jerry, “This began my love for rugby; apart from playing locally I went on to play many tournaments around the Caribbean. I also played in England with an East London rugby club; in Canada with the Toronto Dragons; the West Indies rugby team; invitations from Trinidad and Tobago; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (Island Sharks) and Barbados defence force”.
On the other side of life, Jerry is a fire-fighter by profession and has been employed with the Saint Lucia Fire Service for 28 unbroken years.
He said, “I was given the opportunity to get involved in various aspects of the job. I am trained in Search and Rescue, Urban Search and Rescue; Rescue in collapse structures; Swift water rescue; Hazmat training; Aerodrom fire fighter; Aerodrom Trainer; Sea pump operator and many more little but significant training which is essential to become an all rounder as a fire-fighter”.
He has received a Medal of Honour from former Governor General, Dame Pearlette Louisy for saving a child on the beach together with two other Rugby colleagues, Wedrel St.Claire and Nurse Vornette Victor.
“I enjoy working as a fire-fighter: you get to meet persons from all different lives on a day to day and literally it makes a difference in one’s life”.
Throughout his career as a fire-fighter Jerry has been on numerous ambulance calls and fire calls regardless the time or weather. He says, “Being a fire-fighter gives you that responsibility of putting someone’s life in your hands, you then now have to be at a certain level of fitness mentally and physically, it is a challenge to be a fire-fighter”.
According to Jerry, “The public will never know the strain we have to bear dealing with emergencies at any level, its almost inhuman and traumatic for most learning to just cope and ignore the pain and gear up for the next call”.
This reporter also spoke to the Saint Lucia Rugby Football Union, Technical Director, Wayne Pantor for comments. This is what he had to say.
“Overall a solid player with a wealth of playing experience. I have him in grooming via mentoring for his Level 2 Coaching certification and once he has completed the process he is one of the recommended candidates to become the National 7’s Development coach”.
Wayne added, “With the tasking, guidance and Technical support would be to get our male and female potential 7’s teams prepared for the next Regional Olympic Qualifiers in all divisions and age grades, although he maybe eligible to play for the senior men’s team once he meets selection criteria etc”.
“He has a bright future in the sport once he continues on this pathway and transition into the Administrative and the coaching side of things.
From the level of Club rugby, he is the engine room/Backbone of Rogues Rugby Club on and off the pitch.
“I have seen him operating as coach, mentor, brother and even disciplinarian to his peers; as sometimes dealing with different individuals in a team sporting environment is somewhat complex”.
“His Para-military experience as a fire officer has also brought a level of discipline into his demeanour which is evident when he interacts with his teams.
“I simply hope he takes up the challenge to put Saint Lucia Rugby into the Caribbean history books”. He noted.