*Photo supplied
*Photo supplied

Bermuda men’s 7s captain Tom Healy hopes the 2013 North America Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) tournament in Cayman is a step towards establishing them as the #1 team in the region.

Healy is part of a 12-strong squad that flies out today and takes on Mexico, Jamaica and British Virgin Islands on Saturday in Pool C.

The tournament is also a qualifier for the 2014 CACSO Games in Veracruz, Mexico.

But Bermuda, who have  included two promising 17-years-olds in their squad in Keyanho Bean and Josh Deallie, know they face a battle just to qualify from their pool.

Healy told the Bermuda Sun: “We’re pretty realistic in our expectations. This is the first year of a new stage of the 7s programme with the contract with Serevi Rugby, so realistically we’re looking at coming in ninth.

“Ideally, we’d love to make the Cup competitions which is top eight — and we think we could realistically make that — but unfortunately the luck of the draw hasn’t gone our way and we’re in with the top two teams in the Caribbean, Jamaica and Mexico, and there’s only two qualifying from our group.

“So we would have to cause a bit of an upset in those games for us to qualify for the Cup competition on day two. That may be a step too far but we are there or thereabouts.”

Healy says Mexico should be the template for Bermuda to follow.

“They’ve pumped money into their development, gone to tournaments overseas and built up their core players — and now they are the top team in the Caribbean. We’re trying to take a leaf out of their book, and with the Serevi coaching programme, we hope to be #1 in five years.”

Bermuda’s ladies’ 7s team are also in Cayman as they continue their development. It’s the first time this team have participated in a NACRA full contact tournament.

The nervous excitement in the squad is palpable but captain Mika Tomita believes the fact the team is even going already makes the trip a success.

She told the Sun: “I think all the girls are very nervous. This is their first time playing in a while.

“Last year we took an informal Bermuda team to New York sevens and we went to the Vegas sevens and did very well in that.

“We are taking a bunch of new girls this time so we are a little nervous. And we’ve never played against these teams so we’re not really sure if they’re development sides or how strong they’ll be.

“The fact we are going is a success in itself. If we can win a couple of games, even if we only lose by a couple of points that will be a success.” n

Full NACRA preview in Friday’s Sun.