Rugby: The First Four
The southern Districts have seemingly stormed ahead in setting up rugby football clubs in Belize, and the first four clubs have appointed organisors and are busy attracting players and volunteers through their social media campaigns.
The Belize Rugby Board (Rugby Belize) has organized the country into two ‘Districts’ for domestic competition purposes; North includes Corozal, Orange Walk and Belize, and South covers Cayo, Stann Creek and Toledo.
Hattieville United Rugby Football Union (part of the Hattieville United Youth Sporting Club), organized by Haddan Garbutt, is the headquarters of Rugby Belize.
Rugby Belize plans to have a rugby football union in every major town throughout the country by the end of 2015, with a national team for sevens in place in time to commence training for the first big international sevens competition in 2015 / 16.
Hattieville United’s Haddan Garbutt was the first to express an interest in setting up a Rugby Football club, but because football is the major participation sport for Hattieville youths, their rugby campaign has yet to get going. It will take centre stage in the coming weeks as the football season draws to a close.
Next came Belmopan Rugby Football Union, with Dan Goodman as Organsior who leapt ahead with a very informative facebook page laying down a challenge for the people of Cayo. Building on the physicality of the sport, Dan’s campaign is challenging the people of Cayo not to be left behind as the sport develops across Belize. The message being Cayo people need to be in the national team!
San Pedro RFU, under the guiding hand of Martin Dawson as Organisor, has attracted a lot of interest from the ex-pat community on Ambergris Caye, where a significant number of people having previously either played or been involved in rugby, now having their interest rekindled.
Orange Walk RFU demonstrates that rugby isn’t just a boy’s game when Jazmin Zetina was appointed local organisor. Jazmin is looking forward to getting the ball rolling around the fields of Orange Walk District.
Rugby Belize’s Global Ambassador, Belize’s only professional rugby player, Jono Woodward, is very happy with the progress made so far. “It’s great to see people taking this sport seriously in Belize. We have huge opportunity and great potential especially in sevens.”
Founder of Rugby Belize, Tony Gillings, says he hopes to have rugby clubs based in communities across the country, “We want to organize a domestic league as quickly as possible, with teams competing against each other from northern and southern districts. From these teams we will select players for a national sevens and 15-man teams to compete internationally.”
Rugby Belize, under the auspices of the Belize Rugby Board, has already established links with rugby federations in Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica and further afield and plans are afoot to participate in international friendlies “as soon as we can” says Tony.
Rugby Belize is looking for players – men, women, girls and boys of all ages who would like to give it a go, no experienced necessary as we will have coaches on hand. Training events are planned throughout the country, and anybody interested should go to www.rugbybelize.com and make contact.”
Further inquiries / information:
T: +353 86 389 3865
Hattieville United Youth Sports Club
T: 342 5790 / 623 4457
The Belize Rugby Board will be affiliated with the National Sports Council and the Belize Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association, and will aim to achieve associate membership of the International Rugby Board (the global governing authority of rugby union) within two years. This will allow teams to represent Belize in a professional competitive capacity in rugby union, sevens and other appropriate events, regionally and further afield.
There are rugby authorities throughout Central America, including Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama and El Salvador, and across the Caribbean. There are also two regional authorities: CONSUR – which organizes and manages competitions throughout South and Central America and NACRA, which looks after competitions in the North. Rugby Belize will seek to apply for membership of NACRA, but will be guided by the IRB.
Rugby Union is just one of a number of variants (codes) of the sport. Others are League, Sevens, Wheelchair and Underwater. Whilst Sevens comes under the auspices of rugby union, each of the other codes has a separate global governing authority, and the Belize Rugby Board aims to establish links with these to help in future development of the sport.
The Founder of Rugby Belize, Tony Gillings, is a keen rugby enthusiast, writer and works as an HR Consultant. He is currently based in Ireland but plans to relocate to Belize.