Fourteen men’s teams and 10 women’s teams, representing 15 different countries, take part in this weekend’s Rugby Americas North Sevens, with places up for grabs in next year’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Qualifiers in Hong Kong and the Pan American Games in Lima.

Jamaica won last year’s men’s competition after a dramatic, last-gasp victory over the much-fancied Guyana in Mexico City, and in doing so became the first team from the Caribbean to qualify for Rugby World Cup Sevens, while tournament hosts Mexico were crowned women’s champions.

Mikel Facey, the youngest try-scorer at RWC Sevens 2018 in San Francisco, having only just turned 18 at the time, and Olympic sprinter Warren Weir both make the trip to Barbados as members of an exciting looking Crocs squad looking to successfully defend their hard-earned RAN title.

With the increase to 14 teams, there are now four pools with the winners and runners-up progressing through to the Cup quarter-finals on day two. Jamaica find themselves in Pool A alongside the Dominican Republic and the British Virgin Islands, while beaten RAN 2017 finalists and six-time champions Guyana are joined in Pool B by Barbados and Curacao.

Following a successful 10-day tour to the United States in the build-up to the RAN Sevens, Barbados captain Sean Ward is in buoyant mood. “We’ve now consistently shown we can compete solidly and win at an international level, against some tough challengers. We’re looking forward to the RAN Sevens, and because it’s a home crowd we will be even hungrier for the win,” he said.

Last year’s hosts Mexico, silver medallists at the recent Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, take on Bermuda, the Turks & Caicos and Guadeloupe in Pool C and Trinidad & Tobago, Cayman Islands, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and St. Lucia make up Pool D.

In an expanded women’s competition, the teams are split into two pools of five with title holders Mexico joined by Guyana, Dominican Republic, Barbados and St. Lucia in Pool A. Jamaica’s Lady Crocs, Trinidad & Tobago, Bermuda, the Bahamas and Curacao contest Pool B.

Mexico’s women, the Serpientes, finished highest of all their RAN rivals at the CAC Games back in August, standing on the podium alongside champions Colombia and runners-up Venezuela as bronze medallists.

The top men's and women's finishers at this year’s RAN Sevens will book their tickets to the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2020 Qualifier in Hong Kong, in April next year, while the top two men’s and women’s teams will be off to compete in the Pan American Games 2019 in Lima.

As an added incentive to do well, finishing positions in Barbados will determine seedings for the 2019 RAN Sevens, which doubles as the Tokyo 2020 Olympics qualification tournament.