Caribbean players shown the ropes by Norfolk rugby coach

Some of the St Lucia rugby players. Some of the St Lucia rugby players.

Friday, March 14, 2014
9:00 AM

Swaffham coach Francis Donaghy has swapped Norfolk for the Caribbean after answering a Twitter-based rugby plea. Here is his diary from his first couple of days teaching the players of St Lucia.

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Day One

I landed on a tiny island in the Caribbean, only having had contact with one person, and he was not going to meet me.

For one of the few times in my life, a man holding my name up was waiting to transport me to my home for a week.

Initially Mr Louisy said it was a very hot day, 29C, and if a local complains then it must be bad.

The journey from the international airport to the north of the island is only 40-odd miles but takes 90 minutes due to hardly any of the road being straight and true. The road surface makes the A47 seem like silk, and the driving is scary as it is three abreast going uphill!

I eventually met my contact, a fine young man called Kemar Louisy, who is a credit to himself first and foremost.

He showed me my digs, took me grocery shopping and sightseeing - well two malls, side by side.

Day Two

The sky was full of clouds. It was still warm and humid, but thankfully I was going to conduct a training session with cloud cover. This pale pasty Irishman was not going to end up like toast.

I was not sure of the numbers so planning a session was going to be done on the hoof. New balls, very kindly given by Roger Pierson of Eastern Counties were blown up, and I waited to see. We got going with six guys and a young lady. A game of touch was started, and even though they do have good hands, defence was lacking. So the first thing we did was do defensive drills, to get them thinking about line, line speed etc.

We then went into attack mode, running our club structure. Structure is probably the key word for the trip, as the rugby seems unstructured, as does the whole organisation. This is not a criticism, merely observation. So we ran attack line, and also went in unopposed, as this is a good way of putting in place the areas we had covered. They do like to run with the ball, and they do have good hands. But I’m guessing that when under pressure they fold and play ragged. We shall see when they play.

Before we split up, I presented the guys with their new balls and pins, courtesy of EC rugby. Photos were asked for and taken. Conversations took place and contact situations. These guys just need some proper coaching.

They won’t be world beaters, but they could qualify for the Commonwealth Games Sevens at some stage. I hope they can do so. Swaffham and EC will definitely be cheering for them.

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