<span style="color:#666666"><em><strong>Bermuda's top rugby sevens player has described the IRB's decision to axe the West Indies team from international competitions as "gut-wrenching".</strong></em></span>

Tom Healy said he was very disappointed by the move, which means Bermudian players will no longer have the opportunity to play at the highest level.

Healy, who was Bermuda's sole representative in West Indies side that played in the Hong Kong Sevens tournament last March, said the decision could lead to the demise of his team.

He said: "The IRB series is the highlight of the West Indies Sevens team's calendar.
"It is the only chance Caribbean-based players and Bermudian players get at playing at the highest level.
"This decision in essence will lead to the demise of the West Indies rugby team.
"And this all comes at a time when we are at our peak, given recent results in Hong Kong where we gave Kenya a good run for their money and competed well against fully professional players.
"This is a huge body blow to us given how far we have come - this last year has been the best one we have had for a long time."

Mr. Healy added: "As players we have to keep to our own strict regime of fitness and food - so that we keep in shape.
"It's tough to do and we only get together for a few weeks every year to practice.
"To find out that this has all been in vain is a real gut wrencher."

Mr. Healy confirmed that the West Indies squad would be appealing against the decision - but he said he did not hold much hope.

"The IRB would not have made this decision if they had any thought of going back on it. That is the simple facts of the situation.
"In the long run this could have a huge effect on rugby in Bermuda and the Caribbean -­ I know that if I didn't have the opportunity to play in competitions we have played in over the last few years I would not have pushed myself.
"And I'm sure it will be the same for other younger players.
"This decision by the IRB could signal the end of the West Indies rugby sevens team."

The West Indies current coach, Joe Whipple, said: "The aspect of this decision that brings me the greatest sadness is will the next generations of players be lost when they have so much to offer.
He added: "Although the IRB's decision was relayed by North America Caribbean Rugby Association there was no consultation with the NACRA executive or more particularly, the elected West Indies representatives.
"Personally, this process is troubling as it does not follow the ideals of the Olympic spirit which embraces the democratic process."

Source: <a href="http://www.bermudasun.bm/main.asp?SectionID=8&amp;SubSectionID=203&amp;ArticleID=43263">Bermuda Sun</a>

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