Virgin Islands Beach Rugby squad tackles competition in Florida

By BVI Rugby Football Union

Virgin Islands Beach Rugby competed on Saturday January 5th 2019 in the RAN Beach Rugby 5s on Hollywood Beach, Ft Lauderdale. Photo: BVIRFU

Virgin Islands Beach Rugby competed on Saturday January 5th 2019 in the RAN Beach Rugby 5s on Hollywood Beach, Ft Lauderdale.

The inaugural tournament was contested by 10 teams in the men’s division, 4 women’s teams, 6 men’s youth and 3 female youth.

The squad consisted of “Big Man” Andre Adams, “The Viking” Sean Burgess, “Rookie” Will Melanson, “Power Prop” Damion Brown, “Hands” Tom Chapman, devilishly sneaky Marc Harbison, a solid Mark Livingston and young speedster Noah Pierce.

Virgin Islands opened up their tournament against a highly rated USA South Panthers B whose players are part of World Rugby development program for the USA Eagles.

Proceedings began with both sides making huge hits and managing to defend against any early scores. Eventually – about half way though the first half – some superb handling and ball retention from Virgin Islands created a two-on-one with Noah Pierce creating a lane of space on the wing. Pierce was passed a bullet as he streaked down the line for the game’s opening try to stun the crowd.

An injury on the USA Panthers side forced a breather as medical crews attended the downed player. This was very much in need as the intensity of beach rugby was already taking it’s toll on players from both sides. Huge offensive hits and show stopping tackles continued to follow. Scores began to flow from both sides with exceptional performances coming from big boys Andre Adams and Sean Burgess. Rookies, Will Melanson and Noah Pierce delivered way beyond expectation and were true assets in tackling, driving into contact, recycling, hands and speed. Quite the accomplishment for gentlemen playing in their first contact match.

The ability of USA to do complete line changes between tries wore on the Virgin Islands lads’ energy as, carrying a squad of only 8 vs their 12, made brief gasps at air far shorter than the Americans.

USA South was able to secure a few tries in the final minute to win the game 8-4 in a match that seemed closer and could have gone either way until the final minute. The boys were all commended for the efforts against a much more experienced and drilled opposition. Several VI players were in a serious state of exhaustion at the final whistle due to putting in a herculean effort in a match filled with literally hundreds of tackles and every player being smashed into the sand face first on several occasions.

Shortly after, the VI faced Boca Raton and another punishing match. Scores coming from all the VI stars and some fancy handling from Mark Livingston and Marc Harbison kept the talented Floridians on the back foot. The Boca boys were big and strong, again with plenty of backup and were able to edge Virgin Islands 8-6. Another strong performance but VI unable to pick up the win.

Next up was University side USF whose youth and fitness was too much but the VI went down fighting in a close one. Another blinder that saw all VI players taking on a series of power tackles from the crossfit cut young lads of college rugby.

By day’s end, the hits and lack of subs proved too much. Virgin Islands went down to a Fort Lauderdale Knights side who were playing for a spot in the playoffs having already picked up 2 wins out of 3. The Knights played incredible flat line defence and Virgin Islands were not able to punch in a score.

It was disappointing to not pick up any wins but the VI side played great for their first beach tournament and surprised the crowd with determination and poise making great plays and securing tries against formidable opposition all afternoon.

Winners USA South took home $1,500 for their efforts and the 2nd place Boca Raton – who only squeezed passed the VI 8-6 – was able to take home the $750 prize for runner up after a tough final against the tournament favourite.

Virgin Islands’ Noah Pierce picked up 3rd place in his Fastest Players race in which each team’s fastest players were pitted against each other to race the distance of the field, retrieve a ball and race back to score a try.

VI Beach Rugby thanks sponsors Carey Olsen and CPG Construction. whose support has enabled BVIRFU to grow the game.

A great time was had by all and the festivities afterwards did not disappoint.

Virgin Islands Beach Rugby is always looking for new players to join Beach Rugby Contact 5s in the BVI.

Sessions are usually held at Cane Garden Bay or Little Bay. Get in touch with BVI Rugby Football Union on Facebook to register your interest or touch base with one of the players.

Virgin Islands Beach Rugby squad competed in the RAN Beach Rugby 5s on Hollywood Beach, Ft Lauderdale, Jan 5, 2019. Photo: BVIRFU