Mendez sees opportunity in new qualifying system
Trinidad and Tobago senior national men's rugby coach, Larry Mendez, is confident that the recently announced new promotion and relegation system introduced by the International Rugby Board (IRB) for its HSBC Sevens World Series presents an open window of opportunity for Caribbean rugby unions dreaming of qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
"The IRB has gone a long way in creating a level playing field. It's still going to be hard for a Caribbean nation to qualify from the North America and Caribbean region, given the disparity in funding and infrastructure between, Canada, Mexico and USA. However in my view, Olympic qualification is not pie in the sky. I encourage the Caribbean to give it a serious go and don't be intimidated and lack self belief or self confidence."
In the case of Trinidad and Tobago, Mendez is determined to giving Rio 2016 Olympic qualification a committed try.
"The Trinidad and Tobago Rugby Football Union (TTRFU) is seeking to put sport science support in place with the Sport Company High Performance Unit.
The current 19-member national Sevens training squad will have their strength and conditioning needs evaluated. And the appropriate preparation programme will be designed, implemented and supervised by the High Performance Unit.
It's a start and an important one at that. I am adopting the approach of New Zealand Sevens rugby coaching legend Gordon Tietjens.
He has a fearsome and zero tolerance attitude towards fitness , discipline, work ethic and team spirit. To begin with his team must always be the fittest. The All Blacks record in Sevens rugby speaks for itself."
New Zealand's (All Blacks) Sevens coach of 18 years, Tietjens has been inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame.
Under him, the All Blacks won 10 IRB World Series, a Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2001 and all four Commonwealth Games gold medals contested to date.