Sun, Sea, Sand and… rugby sevens? Not a combination you would normally mix; however, for the Barbados national sevens team, they are doing just that…
One of the surprise teams and the latest inclusion to the Commonwealth Games line-up is Barbados. A country that is known for its sun, sea, sand music, food, drink and cricket is trying to add another string to its bow – rugby sevens.
Barbados were the competitions newest recruits after it was officially confirmed that Nigeria had pulled out of the tournament in February.
A team made up of students, teachers, mechanics and chefs, amongst others, living on the idyllic island will join up with others living in England. The suqad of 27 players is split with ten on the island and 17 living over in the UK.
Barbados are now preparing for their first Commonwealth Games rugby sevens appearance. They will take on defending champions New Zealand - who are going for their fifth consecutive gold medal - hosts Scotland and Canada at Ibrox Stadium.
The squad travelled over to the UK and joined together over a month ago as they have tested themselves in a number of sevens festivals around the country.
In the final date on their list before the travel to Glasgow, the Bajans travelled to Allianz Park, the home of Saracens, for the inaugural Sevens and the City tournament, hosted by Dave Strettle and Matt Stevens.
On the same day England, Scotland, Wales and others were taking part in the tournament as Barbados got one last chance to see where they are at with only a couple of weeks to go until the Games begin in Glasgow.
The Talking Rugby Union team travelled to the Sevens and the City festival and caught up with a couple of the Barbados players to hear their thoughts on the tournament itself and how their preparations are going for Glasgow.
England-based Phil Lucas and Jordan Gomez explained how the squad was coming together and how they were firstly involved in the team set-up.
“It’s been a brilliant day here, we have really enjoyed it” Phil began. “It’s a fantastic pitch to play on, playing against some top opposition.
“It’s just what we need in our preparation for the Commonwealth Games in a couple of weeks.”
Jordan then added that “all of the teams at the event our really competitive. England should probably walk this,” he thought, “they’re a good side.
“Scotland have come up with Stuart Hogg as well. But we are trying to chip in also and make our way up the ladder, so we will try and give it our best go at the Commonwealths too.”
As aforementioned, Barbados we the most recent inclusion to the Glasgow line-up after Nigeria pulled out, and both Jordan and Phil admitted that they didn’t expect to be involved in a tournament of this magnitude.
“I think we were all pretty shocked when we got the call. It was a real no-brainer when we were offered the spot.
“What a fantastic occasion for us! There are so many boys who have put their hearts and souls into this team and to go and represent the few hundred thousand back home in Barbados is a great achievement. We are really looking forward to it.”
Austin then asked the guys for a little bit more detail on how the team came together and from where the majority of players hail.
“At the moment it’s pretty much half and half for us; we have about eight to ten UK-based players and about 17-20 Bajan players.
“We had a base camp at Sutton Coldfield Rugby Club where we trained at weekends alongside going out to tournaments across the country.
“I think that’s been great for us to gel as a team and hopefully perform at the Commonwealth Games.”
Make sure you stay tuned to Talking Rugby Union in the build up to and throughout the Games as we will be bringing you all the best insight, interviews, reaction and analysis from the Commonwealth Sevens.