Retired All Blacks star helps young ruggers

A growing pool of young players interested in developing their skills as rugby players got a boost in the form of a recent training session featuring former New Zealand All Blacks Sevens captain, DJ Forbes.

Forbes, who retired from playing last year as the sport’s most capped player, was on a visit here as the featured speaker at the Cayman Rugby Football Union’s players’ dinner earlier in October and also made time to help the young players.

CRFU Director of Rugby Jovan Bowles explained that local rugby benefactor, Marcus Cumber, created this opportunity when he ran into Forbes at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco over the summer. “They discussed over coffee their thoughts of having DJ come to Cayman and share his knowledge,” Bowles said.

Forbes represented New Zealand at the highest level for a decade, winning six World Series titles and a Commonwealth Games gold medal. dropped in on the training session at Seven Mile Public Beach on 20 October, where players from U12 all the way to U19, were put through developmental drills.

Jovan Bowles and DJ Forbes (right) led the training.

“We’ve been working on some fundamentals, better decision making and some tackle technique also,” explained Bowles, himself a former South African Rugby Sevens national player. “To have a new voice sharing his knowledge and giving some re-emphasized fundamentals into the system is just fantastic. It’s golden.”

Forbes said it was important for him to give back to the sport through initiatives like this one. “It’s good to see all the kids turn out, including the girls. We’re really just trying to work on some basic skills and give them the tools to maybe make it to the next level,” he said. “The energy is there. That’s good to see.”

When asked what lasting words he would like to leave with the youngsters, the 37-year-old said hard work can take you a long way.

“A lot of people think that if they don’t have the talent or the x-factor that other players may have, that they don’t have a chance, but I can guarantee that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work. These guys, if they keep at it, they will achieve their goals,” said Forbes, the 2008 International Rugby Sevens Player of the Year.

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