Last Updated on Thursday, 11 February 2010 03:19
The genesis of Sharks R.F.C started about 75,000 B.C.E when a group of Neanderthals began passing around the cranium of a goat they had just slaughtered…
Fast forward to C.E 1997, a group of surviving warriors from the defunct Arawak’s RFC (rumor has it the tribe was slaughtered by the Caribs men), joined together in the common bond of their alma mater ( Calabar High School) to form Calabar Old Boys Rugby Association (C.O.B.R.A). The only venom C.O.B.R.A had was the hard-hitting fury with which its members tackled. Their bravery is legendary, so is their 0-150 record. With the likes of Junior Thompson, Frank Palmer, Roy Calvert (only 15 at the time) Romeo Monteith (another juvenile in school), Claude Yen and others, C.O.B.R.A blazed its glorious rugby style of ‘never say die’ for two seasons. A most memorable battle was a showdown against Vauxhall Old Boys, a game in which C.O.B.R.A with only 12 gladiators on the field, led the mighty ‘greens’ at half time and forced Vauxhall to retire two players from the field after they were smacked silly by the viperous Cobras.
Now one might think that with a 0-1500 record we would be the most beaten up team. Well, you are wrong. There was the University of the West Indies RFC. With a record of 0-5000, they were the worst bunch playing rugby. Even the U-16 high school boys, who made up the Privateers RFC, would romp over U.W.I on Saturdays. At the start of the 1999-2000 season there were murmurings of an impending merger. However, no one had the umph to make it happen. That is, no one but loud-mouthed Romeo who vociferously declared at the start of season sevens, that if both clubs did not combine, he would stop playing as like all and sundry he was tired of being beaten in every game. He continued mouthing off until a consensus was reached. On the spot, U.W.I/Calabar was formed.
It was an opportunistic and a glorious union. Not only did the U.W.I team have the sandwiches, jerseys, medical kits and a bus that C.O.B.R.A did not have, but also the U.W.I half provided valuable scientific insights as to how the game should be played. With Professor Anthony Greenway at the helm, Devon Gardener and Omar ‘animal’ Christian as the scientists, much analysis, calculations and formulas were devised to ensure a turn in fortunes for the players. Mix this scientific approach with the sheer brawn, meanness, viciousness, and athletic abilities (not to mention ‘never say die’ attitude) of the C.O.B.R.A converts, you had one mean fighting machine.
In short, U.W.I/C.O.B.R.A made it to the finals of the Guinness Cup in its first season, losing out to the undefeated Caribs men. However, it was clear to all that the club was a new powerhouse after dispatching of all foes except Caribs RFC.
The following season (2000-2001), the combined team, known as the ‘Reds’, handed Caribs RFC their first defeat in more than 3 years. A converted sprinter (known only as ‘Clit,’ rumor has it he broke the 8 second barrier over 100m) sprinted from the half-line chasing a drop kick to goal (attempted by Roy Calvert), caught the ball from the fumbling hands of a miscreant and scored. Euphoria broke out as the ‘Reds’ went on to claim the Dennis Shipping trophy and $50,000.00 for their first place effort. The boys in red also put on a powerful display in the Guinness League of 00-01, making the finals again. They were to fall short of the coveted cup as a poor kicking display by the club’s ace sharpshooter saw them falling 15-16 to Vauxhall Old Boys in on of the best games played on the C.E.R.F green in years.
Glory days, that is the simple expression describing the boy’s performance during the 01-02 season. Everything came together as the Reds swept both the Dennis Shipping trophy and the Guinness cup. The UWI/BAR unit was in devastating form, running in tries at will and stopping all opponents dead in their tracks. As the season wound down, there were whisperings, murmurings and finally the confirmation that this was the last season of UWI/BAR. The separation was not unexpected, as the original plan was for both clubs to rebuild and separate when strong enough to do so. No one can say both clubs were ready to be separate units again, however, with the “other things” happening, it was simple time to move on.
LET THERE BE...SHARKS!
The 02-03 season began with a Start of Season 7’s competition. A few warriors from the defunct alliance were in attendance. Max(Dwight Cranston), Roy, Robert, Claude, Orville and Romeo. All were veteran campaigners out looking for some scalps. The other teams were disappointed not to see UWI/BAR out in its full red glory as they had spent all summer scheming strategies to stem he red tide. The boys decided to play some rugby and some genius among them (does anyone remember who?) entered the team under the now sacred letters SHARKS.
The tournament was structured on a round robin basis. The boys from Caribs and Vauxhall laughed when they heard the team’s name. At the end of the day when their teams were kicked all over the green, they were not laughing. SHARKS were crowned Start of Season 7’s champions. And so it is that SHARKS RFC began. The core of COBRA former players stood tall again, some friends from the UWI camp rose along with them.
The boys had a difficult season. With the demise of the UWI partnership, there came the demise of sandwiches, a bus for transportation, medical kit and the revered red jersey. Now the boys of SHARKS RFC had to go fishing for themselves. The team bought some $200.00 shirts (FC Barcelona colours), well; Max bought them to be specific. They had blue and red in them and tore easily. The boys gave it there all in the season. There were not many of them at times, but whether 13, 15, 16 or 18 players, they played well and with guts. There were defeats to Vauxhall OLD Boys and Caribs RC during the first and second round of the competition, while they got past ST Catherine Old boys twice. The team was to face Caribs in the semi-finals, however, they got a bye as Caribs was suspended disciplinary reasons. They met Vauxhall in the finals and won the game 6-0 courtesy of two penalties by Roy Calvert, therefore securing the inaugural Real Rock Beer Union trophy, not bad eh?
So began a legend, the legend of the SHARKS!
They are out there, somewhere out there
"And Then They Were Men": The Sharks Story 03-04
Sharks RFC did not win the Real Rock Beer Division 1 title this year; however, they accomplished something more important; they built a team. Recall last season, when the boys could hardly find fifteen to start each game, and though they won the cup, there were many uncertainties as to what the future would be. There were few up-and-coming young players, as a matter of fact; they lost two of their best young players, Donald Walters and Nicholas Pusey to Caribs RFC. Only the consistent Andre Reid remained, and he was pretty much in the bracket of being a veteran.
This season, not only did the boys have a Division 1 team but they also fielded a Division 2 side (Hammerheads). The Division 1 team ended the season 3-3-4 and the Division 2 team ended with a 6-0-3 record. Both teams bowed out in the semi-finals of their respective Division and the teams that defeated them won the respective competitions.
THE FUTURE IS NOW
The boy’s success can be attributed to the influx of young players from Calabar High School. These youngsters’ brought with them discipline, passion, drive, hunger for victory and a lot of skills. All this brought renewed energy to a club that was on the verge of fading to obscurity. When combined with the leadership of the veterans Sharks was a handful to handle.
In terms of numbers, the pack got the most benefit from the youngsters. There were excellent performances from 16 y.o Tight Head Prop, Jason Gooden, who on numerous occasions condemned some of the older men to the bench. Also, Greens and Wilks gave excellent accounts of themselves playing Second Row and Flanker respectively. . Ricardo Bramwell made valuable contributions playing at both Second Row and Flank. Jermaine Pinnock (aka Squadie) exploded on the big league scene scoring a try on debut. His defense was impenetrable and the young man is as fearless as they come. Damon Gayle also gave a good account of himself on the wing, no one can forget the outstanding tackle he made on Greens (Caribs Club) to save a try.
The 03-04 season was definitely the year of the ‘Youngsters’ and emerging talents, however, their successes could not have been possible without the support and leadership of the veterans. Indeed, the old warriors gave everything they had and if nothing else, the casualty count is proof enough of this. The ever-green statesman Orville Lord had an early end to his season and possibly his career, when he tore the ligaments in his right knee during the first half of the season. Lord was the standout Fly-off for number of seasons. Richard Stewart broke both bones in his wrist. His play was really starting to pick up when he received the injury. Derrick Martin, Romeo Monteith , Miguel Thompson and Roy Calvert all ended the season playing with nagging injuries. However, regardless of the battered bodies these vets gave good account of themselves.
New Era….RUGBY LEAGUE
Rugby League was introduced to Jamaica in 2004 and the Sharks became one of the founding clubs. The members were very skeptical about this new sport, as they had endured years of mediocre administration from the other code. However, the opportunity to play rugby in communities and play in a competition that focused on the clubs was too much to pass.
The boys went into earnest training at 31 Red Hills Road (Calabar High School) under the watchful eyes of club captain Roy. The boys watched a few DVD’s provided by the JRLA and caught on quickly as the Paul Morris (JRLA Technical Director) put them through their paces for a couple sessions.The players quickly adapted to the new game and successfully juggled having dual code sessions.
At the end of the Union season (June), the boys put all their efforts into having a competitive team ready to play League. Injuries lead player Romeo Monteith into coaching duties before the start of the season. He could be seen hopping up and down the sidelines as the boys went through their first couple practice games. Another veteran-Otis Brae, was soon to join him on the side lines after dislocating a shoulder in the first practice game.
The boys had a great first season. They were lead by inspirational captain and play-maker Roy Calvert. Valuable contributions came from Kareem Jhagroo, Robert Stephenson, Andre Reid, Peter Tapper and the new revelation of the season, Jarel “Chef” Clarke a thundering prop.
The boys made the finals where they faced off against the old enemy, Vauxhall. Vauxhall had beaten them in their last two meetings and repeated the act once more. The boys simply had no answer for Odel “Flash” Hyman and company.
By the end of that first season the Sharks took the decision to become fully "LEAGUEALISED" and has since switched focus and is fully a RUGBY LEAGUE club.
Article: Romeo Monteith
Edited: Roy Calvert