Jamaica’s men edged out Guyana and Mexico’s women beat Trinidad and Tobago in Barbados this weekend to retain their respective Rugby Americas North Sevens titles for at least another year.
As regional champions, both teams will now compete at the Pan American Games in Lima in 2019, where they will be joined by the beaten finalists, as well as qualifying for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2020 qualifier in Hong Kong next April.
Jamaica’s men overcame the British Virgin Islands 38-0 and the Dominican Republic 26-5 to progress through to the knockout stages as winners of Pool A, before sealing their place in the final with victories over Barbados (29-0) and Bermuda (14-5).
Guyana topped Pool B thanks to victories over Curacao (59-0) and Barbados (19-10) but they had to dig deep in the knockout rounds, reaching the showpiece match with hard-fought 12-5 and 17-12 wins over the Dominican Republic and Mexico respectively.
The final was always going to be a keenly contested affair as six-time champions Guyana sought revenge for their last-gasp loss at the same stage of last year’s competition; however, Jamaica held their nerve for a repeat triumph by 22-17.
Bermuda, coached by sevens legend Waisale Serevi, showed the biggest improvement from 2017 with a third-place finish.
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In the women’s competition, Mexico recovered from a surprise 14-5 loss to the Dominican Republic in the third match of pool play to finish top of Pool A on points difference from St. Lucia.
Trinidad and Tobago did not have it all their way in Pool B, either, with a 12-12 draw against Jamaica checking their momentum after starting off with three straight wins without a point conceded.
Nevertheless, they qualified for the knockout stages as pool winners and a 22-5 semi-final win over St. Lucia ensured they would play Mexico in their final fixture for the second tournament running.
Whereas last year’s meeting, a 5-0 win for the Lady Serpientes, came at the end of a round-robin event, this was a de facto final. In another physically bruising encounter, there was only one score in it again as Mexico came out on top 15-10.
Jamaica’s Lady Crocs put their semi-final disappointment against Mexico behind them to beat St. Lucia 5-0 in the bronze medal match.
Photos: Michael Evans