Bermuda Rugby players Tashon DeSilva and Dan Cole have been selected to represent the West Indies at the Las Vegas Invitational Sevens Tournament this weekend, following in the footsteps of fellow Bermuda players Derek 'Bobby' Hurdle Jr., Nathan Brown, Freedom Burrows, Jonathan Cassidy, Kris Furbert, Tom Healy, Dan McGavern, Josh McGavern, Rob Steinhoff and Tom Steinhoff who represented the West Indies between 2000 and 2009.
The side will compete in the tournament's Americas Cup (formerly Elite Division), which features top teams from around the globe, including current Bermuda Coach Waisale Serevi's Select Team who have won the competition for the past 4 years.
The pair both made their Bermuda debuts at the same tournament five years ago, and have been mainstays in the squad ever since. Impressive performances by the powerful DeSilva and mercurial Cole at the Caribbean Championships and Glendale 7s over the past few years, impressed Barbados Coach Joe Whipple, who returns to the helm of the West Indies team he coached from 2004-2009.
Coach Joe Whipple commented, “Clearly, to be selected to play for the West Indies is important to the players in our region. I am very honored to be working with these players, many of whom I have coached and some I have not. We are thankful to our benefactor who had the vision to revive an important legacy in West Indian rugby. Rugby Sevens has significantly improved over the last few years in the region. The fitness and skill levels and knowledge of the game have improved despite the lack of funding for the sport. I am confident that the players will wear the West Indies jersey with huge pride and this will be reflected in their efforts on the pitch.”
Tom Healy, who was part of the last representative West Indies team, at the 2009 Hong Kong Sevens, was full of pride for his Bermuda team mates, "Tashon has had his best season playing rugby this year, captaining the national 7s team and being the standout player of the Bermuda rugby league. It's just reward for the sacrifice and commitment he displayed over the last year. Dan is another of Bermuda's standout players who leads by example on the pitch. Dan was a key player in Bermuda's recent success in Trinidad, where we narrowly lost to Mexico in the plate final. Both players will bring something different to the West Indies with a combination of skill and brawn."
DeSilva, the current Bermuda National 7s Team Captain and Coach of the Berkley Institute and Beyond Rugby, Coaches Tom Healy, Waisale Serevi and the whole Atavus team who have helped me develop a great deal. I would also like to thank (National Sevens Team) Manager Jonathan Cassidy for his encouragement over the years. When he told me I had been selected to play for the West Indies, my heart stopped, my body started shaking with shock... I couldn't believe it. Great opportunities like this don't happen often and I am honored to be a representing Bermuda by playing in the West Indies team. Bobby Hurdle, Healy, Cassidy and others have also played for this team and I am excited to keep the dream going not just for them, as well as myself and all the young Bermudians with the desire to play rugby at the highest level. As my dear friend Devrea (Noel-Simmons) always said, be RELENTLESS! Never ever give up on dream and continue to work hard at it."
Cole was similarly honoured about the opportunity, "I am very excited about the re-emergence of the West Indies Rugby 7s team. It's a great opportunity for players in the region to make the next step up from our national teams and compete at a higher level. I am proud to have been selected and represent Bermuda in the West Indies team. It also shows that the hard work going into the Bermuda National 7s program is being recognized."