8/18-19/2001: Atlantis Goes 4-3 at Cayman Island Sevens

Emil Signes
September 14, 2001
JUNE 26, 2013

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Rugby Ecosse Win Cayman Island Sevens

The first Cayman Island Sevens, with more than US$30,000 up for grabs, attracted some big name players and big name teams.  In the end, however, it was a team of 10 amateurs from Scotland that won the title, defeating a team with seven Canadian internationals (and, in the end, as a reserve, tournament MVP Jovesa Naivalu of the US).

The 12-team field was broken into 3 pools as follows:

Pool A
Atlantis (US)
Cambridge University (England)
Wild Geese of Canada

Pool B
Cayman Islands
Grizzlies (US)
Marauders (UK)
Trinidad & Tobago

Pool C
Rugby Ecosse (Scotland)
Samurai (UK)
West Indies

Pool Play

Pool B was weakened by the last-minute loss of Russia, replaced by Trinidad and Tobago.  In the end, all 4 semifinalists were from Pools A and C.

The Wild Geese won Pool A, but the big game in pool play – the one that decided which team would stay in the Cup, and which would be relegated to the Plate – was between Cambridge and Atlantis.  Cambridge eked out a 21-19 win to move on.

Both the Grizzlies, led by Jovesa Naivalu, and the Marauders easily moved on to the Cup from Pool B.

In Pool C, tournament favorite Samurai, leading OMBAC 5-0, were dealt a heavy blow when speedster Spencer Bromley was sent off after punching Jone Naqica from behind after a sideline tackle. Seven against six, OMBAC went on to win 7-5.

Rugby Ecosse, who had been crushed by OMBAC, then knocked off Samurai, 19-0, relegating the favorites to the Plate.

Tropical Storm Threatens

Sunday’s play was moved up three hours because forecasts had Tropical Storm Chantal straying too close for comfort.  (In the end a few minutes of hard rain was all we got.)  There were four more pools, 2 for the Cup and 2 for the Plate.

Plate Round

Surprisingly, among the Plate teams was tournament favorite Samurai, with the following international-laden roster:

Owen Scrimgeour (Capt.), New Zealand Sevens Captain
Junior Tonu'u, New Zealand Sevens
John Bentley, British Lions
Spencer Bromley, England A (sent off vs. OMBAC)
Mike Boys, Wales Sevens
Sean Welch, Scottish Exiles  
Will Kershaw'Naylor, England Students  
Simon Mialle, England Sevens
Gerrie Englebrecht,  South Africa Sevens
Mark Gathercole, UAE 15s & 7's 


Also surprisingly, Atlantis defeated Samurai 21-5 in their Plate pool match to get to the Plate semis where they came away with a convincing win over the West Indies.  In their semi-final, Samurai convincingly beat Trinidad & Tobago.

The Atlantis roster was identical to that in Havana:

Atlantis Number, Name, Club
394 Doug Brown, Kansas City Blues
267 Al Caravelli, New York AC
523 Paul Enright,
New York AC
563 Sebastian Fitzgerald,
New York AC, Oxford U.
524 Kevin Linzey,
New York AC
398 Steve Robke, Kansas City Blues
564 Kurt Shuman,
New York AC
426 Mike Skahan, Kansas City Blues
543 Marc Vera, Olympic Club

The Plate Final between Atlantis and Samurai was for US$5,000.  Taking advantage of two “14-point” interceptions, Samurai won the more important of the two match-ups between the teams, 38-19.  Owen Scrimgeour lead the Samurai with two tries, while Atlantis’ three tries were by Sebastian Fitzgerald, John McGeachy and Kurt Shuman.

Atlantis lineup in Plate Final
Steve Robke (Paul Enright)
Mike Skahan
Kevin Linzey
Sebastian Fitzgerald (McGeachy)
Kurt Shuman
Doug Brown (Sean Hartley)
Marc Vera

Cup Round

Grizzlies and Marauders were knocked out in Sunday’s pool play, but not until the Marauders had lost on a flip of the coin to the Wild Geese.  They had played to a tie, and both had lost 12-0 to OMBAC.  Meanwhile, Atlantis watched sadly as the team they had lost to 21-19 went on to secure a #1 seed in their Cup pool.

Down a player, the Wild Geese went out and got Grizzly and US speedster Jovesa Naivalu, whose two tries as a second half sub got them past Cambridge 19-12.  All-amateur Rugby Ecosse, improving with each game, roared past OMBAC (who had crushed them the day before), 27-0.

Both losing semifinalists had won $5,000, now it was a battle between the $10,000 first prize and the $7,500 second.

With the combined benefits of excellent play, a penalty try and a sin bin to Naivalu, Rugby Ecosse, who had lost to OMBAC by 30 points on Saturday, came off as surprise champions with a 19-12 victory.  The Grizzlies’ (and Wild Geese’s) Naivalu was selected tournament MVP.

Rugby Ecosse
1. Chris Capaldi, Boroughmuir
2. John Shaw, Currie
3. Steve Wands, Scottish Exiles
4. Calum Cussiter, Boroughmuir
5. Carl McWilliam, Murrayfield Wanderers
6. P.J Solomon, Gala
7. Ross Lothian, West of Scotland
R. Malcolm Clapperton, Boroughmuir
R. Cameron Little (Capt), Glasgow Hawks
R. Charlie Keenan, Boroughmuir

All 10 players got into the final match. Try scorers in the final were P.J Solomon, Steve Wands, and the penalty try was attributed to both Calum Cussiter and Carl McWilliam.  According to reports, $3,000 of the $10,000 first place award was spent at the post-match festivities.

Perhaps of note is that the oldest of the four Boroughmuir players was 20.

Wild Geese  (* = played for Canada, either 7s or 15s)
Julian Loveday*
Jason Isaacs*
Andrew Derksen 
Sean Fauth*
Dave Lougheed*
Mike Sandilands
Marco di Girolamo*
Kyle Nichols*
Shayne Thompson*
Dan Harlow

P.S. There's also a cigar story associated with this tour, which started in Cuba but didn't end until after the Caymans. 
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