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NAWIRA Meets This Weekend

Thursday Aug 6, 2009 in Elite Level Rugby Other International News

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This coming weekend the West Indian Rugby Union and the North American West Indies Rugby Association will have their general meetings in Miami.

Attending will be IRB NAWIRA rep Tom Jones, IRB CEO Mike Miller, and

David Carrigy, the IRB’s Head of External and Member Relations.

NAWIRA is working hard to raise the standard of rugby in the region, but the USA and Canada remain the strongest countries by a wide margin.

USA Rugby will be represented by Board of Director vice chair Bob Latham. Latham steps in as USA Rugby’s representative in place of former USA Rugby president Neal Brendel, who has moved to Dubai for work.

“The IRB has set forth an organization framework and we have tweaked it,” said Latham. “We have to address issues including how we compete going forward.”

The West Indies has been competitive in 7s, but isn’t actually a national team – that would be the likes of Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Bahamas, etc. The IRB is committing money to help the developing NAWIRA countries, and Latham said the competitive vision of the region is “evolving.”

Mexico is working hard to get better, and there’s all sorts of discussions about where Cuba could be in a few years.

Most recognize that the presence of USA and Canada teams in NAWIRA events elevates the level, but it can also be demoralizing if those nations dominate everything.

Perhaps there is an opening for a NAWIRA version of the Churchill Cup, where senior nation teams from the West Indies and Central American compete with developmental or age-grade teams from the USA and Canada.

What is certain is that 7s is an area where West Indian teams can move up quickly. With an eye toward helping these teams compete better (or at all) at the Commonwealth Games (2010 in Delhi, India) and Pan-Am Games (2011 Guadalajara, Mexico). The IRB is sponsoring a coaching program in the region, and while that will help, many will say what many of those unions need more than anything, is cash.

- Alex Goff

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