In one of the most eagerly anticipated fixtures on the T&T Rugby Football Union (TTRFU) Toyota Championship Division calendar, second-placed Caribs Rugby Football Club will meet arch rivals Stag Trinidad Northern today, with the traditional Bruno Browne trophy up for grabs and potentially a spot at the top of the standings, which is currently held by Harvard.
The Bruno Browne match will kick off at 5 pm at the Queen’s Park Oval, Tragarete Road, an hour after Harvard begins its all-important clash against Rainbow Sport and Culture Club in another must-win encounter at the latter team’s fortress in Marabella. The start of the Bruno Browne will also follow the Raffie Hosein Cup, a meeting between the second team of the same two clubs, Northern and Caribs, which kicks off at the same venue, at 3 pm.
Caribs, the title holders of both the Bruno Browne Cup and the Toyota Championship Division title, won both competitions on the last day of the season last year with an inspired come-from-behind 13-10 win over Northern at the same venue. Harvard, which was on a bye on the same day, led the standings by one point before the start of the Cup match and lost the title with Caribs’ victory.
However, this season, destiny is in its own hands for Harvard, which leads the standings again by one point ahead of Caribs. Simply, Harvard must win its next two matches against Rainbow and Rainbow to secure the title.
Harvard has already defeated Rainbow this season. In only the first match, Harvard secured a 28-15 win at home over Rainbow, and given its form heading into the match, the Tragarete Road-based club is expected to walk away with a win and a bonus point (awarded for a team which scores four or more tries, or loses by less than seven points).
As with Harvard, Caribs has lost just one championship match this campaign. Being a must-win fixture and given its near perfect record this season, Caribs is also expected to pick up full points against Northern which it defeated by an even wider margin, 27-12, on the league’s first match day.
Northern has not had the most memorable campaign, as it is ruled out of league title contention. However, unlike Caribs, it has a shot at the second biggest title on the TTRFU calendar, the Marcus Minshall Cup. Northern meets Harvard in the Cup final next Saturday.
Caribs faced an unexpected exit from the competition with a shock loss to Royalians at the quarterfinal stage.
Speaking ahead of a big day for his team, Larry Mendez, who coaches both Harvard and the national senior team, insisted that this weekend’s fixtures faces a simple scenario. “It’s a massive game for both Caribs and Harvard. Both teams win and then the Toyota race is down to the final round of matches. This is what it’s all about. Caribs want to hold on to their title and we want it. Simple as that,” said Mendez.
Caribs’ coach Brendan O’Farrell, meanwhile, indicated that his team may start as favourites but are far from strong favourites to take a win. “Other than the loss to Harvard, we’ve been on fine form. Yes we start as favourites, but surely not strong favourites. Northern has been coming into it recently, so it will be a difficult match.
The former T&T international added that his team’s mind will be in the Oval and not in Marabella. “We won’t focus on Harvards’ match,” said the former T&T international. “We’re aware that they playing a weakened Rainbow team, so we know what to expect.”
With Caribs’ facing Police, and Harvard taking on Royalians in both team’s final fixture in two weeks, coach Mendez and O’Farrell will know very well that any slip up will certainly land the other team the title.
Current Toyota Championship Standings
Teams P W D L F A B Pts
Harvard 8 7 0 1 404 73 7 35
Caribs 8 7 0 1 249 143 6 34
Northern 8 5 0 3 250 106 4 24
Rainbow 8 3 0 5 152 176 1 13
Royalians 8 2 0 6 162 155 4 12
Police 8 0 0 8 43 607 0 0
Senior Division Standings
Teams P W D L F A B Pts
Harvard 7 7 0 0 204 41 6 34
D Force 7 4 0 3 192 149 4 20
Rainbow 9 4 0 5 149 169 3 19
UWI 7 2 0 5 57 228 3 11
Tobago 5 2 0 3 132 119 2 10
Caribs 7 2 0 5 85 120 1 9
Under-17 Division Standings
Teams P W D L F A B Pts
Rainbow 9 7 0 2 285 186 8 36
Northern 9 6 1 2 363 114 6 32
Exiles 9 5 2 2 213 203 4 28
Harvard 9 4 1 4 268 209 5 23
Royalians 9 3 0 6 180 341 4 16
Rydeus 9 0 0 9 55 398 1 1
Today - Championship Division
Rainbow v Harvard, Marabella, 4 pm
Royalians v Police, Caribs Pitch, 4 pm
Caribs v Northern, Queen’s Park Oval, 5 pm
Senior Division - Caribs v Northern, Queen’s Park Oval, 3 pm
Exiles v Rydeus, Gasparillo, 3 pm
Royalians v Rainbow, Caribs Pitch, 3 pm
Northern v Harvard, President’s Ground, 3 pm