Ambassadors - History-making Jamaican rugby team enjoys France '98 similarities
Twenty years ago, Jamaica qualified for the FIFA World Cup for the first time and won new admirers for the island. Conan Osborne, captain of the national rugby team, sees the same thing happening this year July in San Francisco when Jamaica makes its debut at the Rugby World Cup Sevens. In addition, he thinks the Jamaica team might surprise some of the top nations there.
A five-year veteran of previous national efforts to reach the global stage, Osborne said Jamaica's prospect at the World Cup are promising.
"This time around, with the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup, we are playing against the best of the best and by all accounts we are among the best of the best. That's why we're there", the 24-year-old reasoned in an exclusive interview during the festive season.
He believes that big teams will be unfamiliar with Jamaica.
The thing that stands out for myself and the rest of the team is that we're an unknown entity to these big countries, the Fijis, your South Africas, your Englands."
"They play against each other on the World Series 10 times every year and they have been doing that for the last 20 years, more, but won't know anything about us really."
HARD TEAM TO SCOUT
According to the captain, Jamaica will be a hard team to scout because there isn't much film footage of his team on the Internet.
"They won't know a whole lot about our players and it's great being an underdog", he remarked.
As was the case with the Reggae Boyz two decades ago, Osborne and his teammates have found fans warming to them.
"When we scored in the final and before we even started the game in the final for the qualifiers in Mexico, the Mexicans were singing Bob Marley's One Love", he reminisced of a game where Jamaica edged Guyana 28-26. The home team had also lost to Jamaica.
"One of the things we're amazed by is how much the public take to us", he outlined. "Whether it's to do with reggae music, Usain Bolt or just the general culture of Jamaicans, every neutral fan seems to love us."