Jamaicans in best possible shape for Carnegie 9s

The Jamaican 9s side were given a warm welcome to Leeds ahead of the Carnegie 9s tournament at Headingley Carnegie Stadium on Wednesday 25th August, with a series of events organised by Leeds Rugby Foundation’s Connecting Communities Manager Ikram Butt.

The teams for this year’s Carnegie 9s are making their final preparations for the tournament, which is set to take place at Headingley Carnegie Stadium on Wednesday 25th August. 

The Jamaican side, who will take on Leeds Met University in the opening game of the tournament, will include four players from Rugby League’s domestic competition in Jamaica. 

They will play, alongside full and semi professional players from the British competition, on the biggest stage in their lives at the famous Headingley Carnegie Stadium. The quartet, Roy Calvert – who is also entered into the sprint to find the code’s fastest man – and his fellow countrymen Brian Hutchinson, Robert Rodney and charismatic Edgar "Shrek the wreck" Herbine arrived in the country this week and joined up with the rest of the squad for a day in the Chapeltown area of Leeds, organised by the Connecting Communities department of the Leeds Rugby Foundation. 

With strong media interest following them, the Jamaicans had a photo shoot at Headingley Carnegie Stadium, where they will face students from Leeds Metropolitan University and Cumbria in the group stages for the chance to play Super League side Hull in the knockout rounds. 

After their visit to the home of Leeds Rhinos, the team headed to the Price Philip Centre, for a training session which was watched by members of the local community who took time away from their own sporting action to see the Rugby League reggae boys in action. 

Their day continued to a visit to the Mandela Centre, where they watched a dance troupe RJC preparing for this weekend’s Leeds Carnival, and the players could not resist getting up and joining in, with giant prop Edgar Herbine stealing the show.
To make them feel further at home the squad then lunched at Marcia’s Caribbean Restaurant just down the road from the former RFL Headquarters, where they tucked into traditional fare. 

On Sunday, the Jamaicans were guests at the Championship One clash between Keighley and Hunslet, where the home side presented them with a commemorative plaque. 

Manager of the Connecting Communities scheme, Ikram Butt, was delighted with the positive impact the Jamaicans have had in their short time here, “The ethos of Connecting Communities is to help provide role models and sporting icons which ethnic groups can engage with and be inspired by

“You could see on the faces of the young and old at the Prince Philip Centre how keen they were to find out more about the sport, the lifestyle and the characters in the squad.
“A number of the children joined in playing and that is what we are about, getting different sectors of society to come together under the banner of sport.

“We started with the British Pakistan side and we want to find links and appeals for every ethnic community.”