Several days after Jamaica’s loss to Canada in the Rugby America’s North Olympic Qualification tournament, Joe Harvey spoke with Rhodri Adamson to reflect on a weekend in the Cayman Islands and what the future brings for the player. (Picture Credit: Rhodri Adamson Twitter)
“Now I’ve had a few days to reflect on it, it still hurts a bit because, ultimately, we’ve got a second chance. But that was probably our best chance at qualifying for the Olympics.” Rhodri Adamson started, “The manner in which we go to the final was pretty good.
“We were very happy with the way that we played in the group stages. I thought that we were very good, so that’s how much we’ve come on in the last three years. This was probably the strongest squad that we’ve been able to send to a RAN Qualifier tournament, but it was certainly the best team we have ever played there.”
Beaten by Canada 40-5 in the final, Jamaica’s runners-up position in the Cayman Islands means that they will compete for a place at the 2020 Olympics in June next year at a repechage tournament. Adamson believes that despite their heart-breaking loss at the Truman Bodden National Sports Complex, rugby is still on the up in Jamaica.
“We obviously didn’t make the Olympics this time, but we’re there or thereabouts in terms of knocking in the door of qualifying in our region in our region. Just that shows the progress that we have made in the last couple of years.” Adamson said.
“After last years Commonwealth Games, the Jamaican Olympic Association has come on board with us, which has eased our stress to some extent. I think that rugby could massively grow there, especially with the Olympics being huge there.”
— Newcastle University R.F.C (@NewcastleUniRFC) July 14, 2019
Finishing in 24th place at last year’s Sevens Rugby World Cup, Jamaica also finished joint 13th at the Commonwealth games. On both occasions it was the emerging rugby nation’s first ever time participating in these events, showing that the nation has started to develop a rugby pedigree.
Qualifying for Jamaica thanks his mother being born on the Caribbean island, Adamson says that playing in the Cayman Island was a unique experience, especially with the country’s notorious chickens roaming onto the field at will.
“The chickens and the heat was ridiculous. I think the heat was about 42 degrees because of the humidity. According to the players from the Caribbean, that’s why the Cayman Islands are called ‘hell’s door’.
“It was funny in the final because I was aware that a fair few people would be watching and the chicken was on the field, so I said to the ref when kicking off; shall we ait for the chicken? And he said just play on, he’ll find his way!” Adamson said.
🇨🇦🇯🇲 Match highlights from the Men's Final of the 2019 RF Group #RAN7s last Sunday in Cayman Islands, where @RugbyCanada defeated @Jamaica_Rugby to book a spot at #Tokyo2020! @WorldRugby7s https://t.co/rsY1UbSsxM #RANRugby 🏉
— RugbyAmericasNorth (@RugbyAmericasN) July 10, 2019
Admitting that he is looking forward to joining his Jamaica teammates again, the former Newcastle University student and Blaydon player, was thrilled with the progression that his nation has been making since he made his international debut.
“One thing I’ve looked at since we lost out to Canada is the huge progress we’ve made. I think now there is a clear divide between us and the other American and Caribbean nations below us.” Adamson said, “We’re obviously not there with the USA and Canada yet.
“We’ve got a buffer between the teams below us now, but it is playing against those top teams where you realise how far that you’ve still got to go. We’re the semi-professional, amateur programme and its going to be really tough to close in on those nations above. But they’re always the games that you look forward to when you go to these big competitions.”
Rugby Jamaica drew praise from none other than Chairman of World Rugby, Sir Bill Beaumont, following their exploits in the Caribbean sun, proving further how far the nation has come in recent years.
Relegated with Richmond last season, Adamson has since moved on from the west London side to re-join Cambridge Head Coach Richie Williams. Fighting out to be the clubs starting scrum-half next season, Adamson is one of many players that have been brought in to make Cambridge improve on their disappointing 13th place finish last season.
— Cambridge RUFC (@camrufc) May 31, 2019
Adamson said that the main thing that persuaded him to move to Cambridge was in fact their Head Coach; “Well, probably the main thing is Richie. I worked with him back at England Counties U20s. We caught up a bit last summer and it was a disappointing season for Richmond and also a disappointing season for myself.
“I didn’t get too much game time, but despite still having a job in London, I still crave first team rugby.” Adamson said, “Richie came knocking on the door again, we talked for a few weeks about the logistics of whether or not it would work and ultimately, it was being able to work with him again.
“He genuinely seemed excitement about the recruitment that they were doing, the way Cambridge are looking to go, because they narrowly survived last year, but it does sound like they’re putting everything in place now to really push on and get the top four in National 1 and then knock on the door of promotion in the next few years.
“That sounded exciting to be a part of and then having worked with Richie in the England Counties U20s, I know the attacking style of rugby he plays. So, after two seasons in the Champ, where it was very kicking based, almost sluggish style of rugby, that sounded exciting too.”