Jamaica Football Rugby Union grateful for JOA support as teams face last chance at Olympic qualification

By Sports Desk June 10, 2021

As they set out on the final leg of their Olympic journey, the Jamaica Football Rugby Union (JFRU) is expressing appreciation for the unrelenting support provided by the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA).

The JOA had outlined a goal of attaining higher than normal sporting variety and qualification to the Olympic Games in Tokyo, in its ‘10 in 20’ plan. So far track and field, boxing, gymnastics, aquatics (diving) and swimming have made the mark.

For rugby, both Jamaica’s national men’s and women’s teams, the Reggae Crocs and Lady Crocs will be participating in the Olympic Repechage, which will decide the final qualifiers for the Tokyo Olympics.

The teams’ quest for Olympic participation started several years ago and included funding from the JOA as they prepared for a number of tournaments such as the 2017 Rugby America’s North Sevens at which Jamaica’s Reggae Crocs emerged as champions and the Lady Crocs placed third.

That victory launched Jamaica into the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco, United States, the Central American and Caribbean Games, Commonwealth Games and Hong Kong Sevens.

“Being a member association of the Jamaica Olympic Association has some wonderful benefits and being in an Olympic qualification hunt affords us good support from the Jamaica Olympic Association,” said JFRU Chairman Jerry Benzwick.

“This is a wonderful initiative from the JOA that allows member unions to access funds and for this Repechage, access to these funds has been given to us by the JOA and without that support, I can tell you, our team would not have the funding to cover the expense of the preparations.”

Ryan Foster, the JOA’s Secretary General/CEO, expressed appreciation for rugby’s progress.

“We are extremely happy with the progress of rugby under Mr Benzwick and his team. The sport has seen tremendous growth and has increased their regional and international presence in the sport,” said Foster.

“The JOA will continue to provide avenues for our members such as the JRFU to find avenues to self-actualise and the Olympics is just one such avenue.”

“Under our Olympic Invest program, we have committed already over $40m to our members for which track and field, surfing, judo, skateboarding, karate, wrestling, gymnastics, fencing, boxing, aquatics, table tennis and rugby have all benefitted thus far.”

Rugby’s final qualification tournament will take place on June 19-20 in Monaco, featuring 12 women’s and 10 men’s teams. The teams represent each of World Rugby’s six regions and this tournament is their final chance to qualify for the Olympics.

In the men’s category, where two will qualify for the Olympics, Jamaica is drawn in Pool B, playing alongside France, Hong Kong, Chile and Uganda.

Pool A comprises Samoa, Ireland, Tonga, Zimbabwe and Mexico for a tournament format in which each team will play all opponents in its pool, with the top two progressing to the knockout stages. Pool winners will face the runners-up from the corresponding Pool, to book their ticket to the final and Tokyo.

For the women’s Olympic Repechage, the Lady Crocs also drew a spot in Pool B, where they will go up against Papua New Guinea, Kazakhstan and Tunisia. Pool A comprises Russia, Argentina, Mexico and Samoa, while Pool C consists of France, Hong Kong, Colombia and Madagascar.

The top two teams in each pool, plus the two third-placed teams with the highest point totals, will qualify for the knockout stages of the competition. As there are two Olympic qualification places available for women, the Repechage will feature two rounds of knockout games with the final round featuring four teams competing in two matches, where both winners gain Olympic qualification and claim their tickets to Tokyo.

Benzwick said while the teams did not prepare adequately, owing to COVID and not being granted approval to play or practice, the teams are working overtime to catch up and he believes they will do well in the Repechage.

“The girls are working hard, they are pushing themselves and our boys are having a good go at it to get themselves ready. So regardless of the setback and all the obstacles we think we are going to pull off a really good performance in this tournament,” he shared.

“I think our players have the spirit of crocodiles – they are resilient, they are tough, they are patient and they are hard-working. So they are thriving off their own energy right now and I’m watching them face adversity, watching them adapt, learn to be adaptive and accepting and just living the moment.

“I think that is very important for the success of any team. If you can seize the moment, it will always be the best team on the day that wins and the hungrier team. Mind you, fitness and experience and all the other attributes of being a sports person come into play, but sometimes it comes down to just grit and determination and that is something that the Crocs are not short of.”

The Jamaican teams have been involved in a pre-tournament camp and will have another in Monaco prior to the Repechage. Benzwick again lauded the JOA for the support to boost its preparation and Olympic hopes.

“We have been afforded a rare opportunity to host an actual camp before we go to the Repechage and this has made a world of difference so far,” said Benzwick. “So we are truly grateful.”

Related items

  • UWI pulls out of Jamaica Premier League (JPL) ahead of new season UWI pulls out of Jamaica Premier League (JPL) ahead of new season

    UWI FC has opted out of the Jamaica Premier League (JPL) ahead of the new season, Dean of the Faculty of Sports, Dr Akshai Mansingh, confirmed earlier this week.

    With the competition scheduled to get underway this weekend, Mansingh pointed to a number of issues relating to the timing of the league and the availability of members of the UWI team.  The players are scholarship athletes and are currently on summer holidays.

     Mansingh also pointed out that the extended delay to the start of the league had severely impacted the university financially.  As part of its preparation, the team housed athletes on campus, allowing for small group training in order to build team chemistry and strengthen relationships with the coaches.

    However, the administrator went on to explain that the university follows strict guidelines regarding the semester system, and unfortunately, they have now come to the end of the academic year.

    Mansingh further clarified that the university’s objectives were different from the remaining teams in the Premier League.  He said that the priority of the University is to offer students the best opportunity to excel at sports and in so doing represent the UWI.  Members of the team must be university students.

    Mansingh insisted that the university would prefer to play in the JPL but would not sacrifice the principles of being a university team in order to be one with just its name.  The UWI FC were promoted to the league in 2015 and have since done well for themselves.

    Chairman of the Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL), Chris Williams, said that sincere efforts were made to ensure that UWI had remained a part of the JPL.

     


     

     

  • JOA and Jamaica's sports minister laud Veronica Campbell-Brown for outstanding athletic career JOA and Jamaica's sports minister laud Veronica Campbell-Brown for outstanding athletic career

    The Jamaica Olympic Association and Jamaica’s Sports Minister Olivia Grange praised Veronica Campbell-Brown for her outstanding career as Jamaica’s decorated athlete.

  • Jamaica Trials: ‘I think she will definitely be top four’ – Jackson picked to spring 100m surprise at National Champs Jamaica Trials: ‘I think she will definitely be top four’ – Jackson picked to spring 100m surprise at National Champs

    Track and field analyst and SportsMax.tv’s The Commentators podcast host Ricardo Chambers has picked 400m specialist Shericka Jackson to spring a surprise at the Jamaica Championships, in the women’s 100m, on Friday.

    Unusually, the 2016 Olympics 400m bronze medallist was not only registered in her pet event but also in the 100m and 200m as well.

    The 25-year sprinter looked in exceptional form as she clocked a personal best of 11.02 seconds at the JAAA Destiny Series earlier this month.  A solid time, but to compete with a talented women’s field that not only includes the likes of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson-Herah, but also junior record holder Briana Williams, and seasoned 100m sprinter and World Championship relay gold medalist Natasha Morrison will take an extraordinary effort. 

    Morrison, who clocked her personal best of 10.87 earlier this season, has the fourth-fastest time in the world this year.  Double world Under-20 sprinter Briana Williams ran her personal best of 10.97 earlier this month, and rising NCAA star Kemba Walker, who has run 10.98, could also figure in the mix.  Chambers, however, believes Jackson could be in line to deliver something special.

    “She was on the 2019 4x1 team and just based on what I have seen of her this year and her entire career, I actually think personally she runs the hundred and I think she will be top four,” Chambers said on this week’s episode.

    “I think she will definitely finish top four.  I think it’s a matter of whether she is second third or fourth, but I expect her to be in the top four,” he added.

    With the schedule of the National Championships, however, it could be difficult for the athlete to do all three events and Chambers believes it could be a mistake to not compete in the 400m, with a possible gold medal up for grabs this year at the Olympics.

    “Based on the schedule, three rounds of the 100, two rounds of the 200m, and two rounds of the 400, I don’t think she can do all events and a few of them overlap.  So, let’s see what final decision she makes, I expect her to run the 100m and 200m and leave the 400m,” he said.

    “It’s interesting though because if you look at what is happening in the women’s 100, if you are not going to run 10.7 it makes no sense, if you are not going to run 21 for the 200m, it makes no sense…Stephen Francis is an absolute genius, I hope he didn’t make a mistake this time but we will see how this one works out.”

    Listen to the full episode below 

     

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.