RUGBY is a major international sport and has taken a number of young players in Saint Lucia by storm, however for it to continue on that upward trend (especially amongst the younger ones) there need to be more local and regional exposures whenever the opportunities present themselves.
From the outside looking in, one local club is looking to step on the accelerator to make it happen for its members.
Following the first lock down/national curfew imposed as a result of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic earlier this year, the Saint Lucia Rugby Football Union (SLRFU) held its Touch Tag 5s and 7s tournaments in collaboration with the various clubs over a three months period.
Following the above mentioned tournaments, the SLRFU was in the process of staging the Rugby 10s tournament starting Sunday 25th October, but by all indications that showpiece is now on hold as the Island is now experiencing a surge in Covid – 19 cases.
New kids on the block, the Monchy Sharks, a newly formed club, is leaving nothing to chance according to the newly elected President, Cyril Marius, who also happens to be the team’s coach. He spoke to this reporter in depth.
Marius also has alongside him the following individuals on the executive: Christal Octave – Vice President; Tamme Norley – Public Relations Officer; Kishma Lewis – Treasurer and Saraline Le Compte – Secretary.
“We are governed by a constitution, and our aims and objectives is to offer coaching, competitive opportunities and also to promote the club within the local community under the SLRFU banner,” he said.
The club’s name and logo speak volumes and according to Marius, who is also a Rugby Referee “The shark spirit is a peaceable predator. It is to be strong and aggressive when it comes to opportunities and challenges and at the same time forge a lasting friendship and work hard to keep the peace.”
VOICE: With a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases on island and the hosting of contact – sports, having been discouraged by Health officials, how much has that affected the team’s training?
His reply, “I am sure everybody is at home and saying ‘I wish I could be out there, I wish I could play. We are keeping our fingers cross for now so that when the opportunity comes knocking we can go back out there and train. I would like, not only for Monchy Sharks but the other rugby clubs, to keep that flame burning and wanting to excel and push Saint Lucia’s rugby further when the all clear is given to resume training and competition”.
He added, “In this period, we are working on individual self and learning the theoretical aspect; we are hanging on in there, it also gives us the chance to study more about the game”.
He continued, “What worries me more, I hope this COVID-19 does not make the players lose interest, the numbers were increasing nicely. We also had a number of individuals during our training days who came to watch the team train, they are now taking part, which is very good, so we growing well”.
VOICE: Who are you looking to attract?
Marius: “The club is looking for individuals as young as seven years old and over from both sexes, and also individuals who are willing to contribute toward the growth of the club”.
VOICE: Monchy Sharks recently took part in the SLRFU touch Tag 5 and 7s tournaments for the first time, though they did not win, are you satisfied with the team’s overall performance?
Marius: “Yes!! I am very satisfied with how the team played and the performance we put on the pitch. We did quite a bit of work/ training leading to both tournaments. It also showed how interested and committed the players were to every game. We also had two young ladies, Kiara Cherubin and Nejma Marius who played in the touch Tag 5 tournament and they too gave a very good account of themselves whenever the opportunity was offered to them”.
VOICE: You’re a new kid on the block, in the preliminary round of the 7s tournament you had a baptism of fire, the experienced players on the opposite side did not allow the team to settle down, which team do you fear the most?
Marius: In spite the aggression on the pitch from our opponents, the team has not showed any fear and did not lose focus. I know the true potential of my players. When they fully understand / learn the game they will be a force to be feared by all in the SLRFU family and it will be sooner than later”
VOICE: Who are the key players to look out for in the future?
Marius: “In terms of key players, Nico Joseph has shown great leadership and running skills and plays the role of captain; DJ Graham, his great size and pace can be a great asset as a forward; Marvon Graham, is an outstanding player, he can run and has a nice side step, he can either play as a winger or centre position; Samaki Jamie Daniel, he is into track and field and has good running skills, a very good player to have and Eden Eugene, another good player with running skills, he is lightning quick”.
He added, “On the women side of things, the top three women are Nejma Marius, Kiara Cherubin and Melanie Norley, we also have 13 year old Kissel Paul; Kissel has made some great strides towards the game along with Briana David who has shown the same”.
Marius who is a Level 1 coach and referee is also thankful to have the assistance of the SLRFU Technical Director, Wayne Pantor onboard. Wayne has assisted the club immensely in its overall development.
VOICE: With a surge in vandalism at a number of sports facilities island wide, how do you as President intend to curb such behaviour by members?
Marius: “We train three days a week from 4.00 p.m. at the Monchy Playing Field: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On the question of vandalism, we have made it abundantly clear to our members that such behaviour will not be tolerated and as such we intend to manage and respect facilities leased to us by various bodies within the community”.
Marius also took a time out to acknowledge the following individuals: SLRFU Technical Director, Wayne Pantor with helping and marketing the sport; The SLRFU under the leadership of Roger Butcher and his executive. Past president, Colvis Samuels for his contribution and a long list of players and members that also have done tremendous work to promote the sport here and abroad. Joel Martin of United Through Sports (UTS), one of the original helpers for Monchy Sharks and Jerry Charles of Rouges, the team to beat in any local tournament for his coaching and leadership skills.
The VOICE also spoke to the SLRFU Technical Director, Wayne Pantor for comments. This is what he had to say.
“I have been helping them with the player development side of things, they have some natural ball players in that community and that augurs well for the sport”.
According to Pantor, “They have a wide catchment of players of different sizes and age; as young as 6 years”.
“So once they continue on the Long Term Player Development (LTPD), they would be a permanent fixture on Saint Lucia Rugby landscape. I have also identified a couple of youth players to add to the Rugby Academy both males and females,” he said.