Enfield RFC Member Joe Westin Internationally Capped for the Cayman Islands
Those who have been around the club for a while will no doubt fondly remember Joe Westin, and those of you who are newer will have heard a few tall tales about the fleet-footed lock known endearingly around Enfield RFC as “Cayman Joe.” Joe came to us during his tenure at Saint Mary’s University, joining the club to play alongside the friends he had made in the Nova Scotia University rugby league. Joe was excellent in the lineout, tremendously fit around the park, and aggressive in the contact area on either side of the ball (he also flourished at the club pool parties which were much more frequent in those days…). He put an incredible amount of passion into the shirt during his time in Enfield and has been sorely missed since he returned home to his family in the Cayman Islands.
Since leaving the Enfield RFC Joe has continued on with his rugby and taken his game to much higher levels. For those who follow the international rugby news a bit of this will be old hat, but we are very proud to share that one of our own has been plying his trade with the Cayman Islands national rugby team, and has earned international caps (alongside his three brothers). We have recently caught up with Joe and he has been good enough to share his experiences with us in the aftermath of a Rugby World Cup Qualifier test series against Bermuda and Mexico this summer.
Mark Sweeney: How long have you been involved with the RHSW Cayman National XV?
Joe Westin: I started my involvement with the XV’s squad last year in 2015 when I was first capped against Mexico for the Rugby Americas North semi-finals. My international endeavours this season started in August 2015 training with the Hong Kong sevens squad. After 5 months with keeping up with that squad I blew my A/C joint in February 2016 putting me out of selection. I started training with the XV’s squad that same month.
Out of a group of 32 to 37 players we have had a core of about 24 training together since February. Many hours put in with a world class professional coach, former South Africa Bulls head coach Phil Petorious.
MS: One of your most recent matches was a RWC qualifier against Bermuda, what was the atmosphere like, any comments on the match?
JW: Bermuda is, for lack of a better title, our arch nemesis. The atmosphere was hostile and exciting. We were confident going into the game, however, we knew Bermuda would be tough and it would be a physical game. I came on the field in the second half with 30 minutes to go and immediately re-injured my A/C joint by a crushing tackle mid field. However, we played our game pattern much better in the second half and came out with a historic win over Bermuda.
MS: Your next fixture was a big one against Mexico, how was the feeling among the squad? What were the preparations like?
JW: Mexico is my favorite team to play against. We are a small island with only 37 men to pick from, and we compete and can out play Mexico who has 10,000 rugby players registered. Our preparations started before the Bermuda game. We had Mexico in our sights from February. As a team our coach gave us a vision and a dream to make it into the Rugby World Cup. He made us see that it was possible.
Unfortunately battling 8600 feet altitude we started finding our legs too late in the second half and could only fight our way back from a 27-7 deficit to 34- 24 final score.
It was an especially bitter loss because we out played them in the second half and would have outlasted them if there were only 10 extra minutes left or we started playing our game 10 minutes earlier.
MS: The Westin’s are in a very small club, having four of you marching out in your national team colours, how much does it mean for you to be representing the Cayman’s alongside your brothers?
JW: My brothers playing beside me on such a grand stage is so special. It is hard to describe. We play on all teams together. 5 Westins are on the Pig Trotters club team who are reigning champs 3 years in a row now. We put our own Westin’s team into the annual sevens tournament and Beach rugby tournament. I can sometimes take it for granted but once I saw our names on the team roster for the Bermuda game and again 4 Westin’s for Mexico I get a real sense of pride, but again am humbled by how big of a blessing it is. We are a very Catholic family, and with a few team mates on the field before the games we say a prayer together and give all our successes and failures in the upcoming game to God and thank Him for the privilege of playing for our Country. It is very special.
We might never get to do this again together so I cherished each moment. Our game against Mexico topped the cake when all 4 Westins were on the field at the same time.
The Enfield RFC is tremendously proud of Joe’s accomplishments and grateful to him for sharing his experiences with us. We have recently carried out a long-distance jersey exchange with Cayman Joe and will proudly display Joe’s Cayman Island’s National Team jersey in Enfield. We are also in the early stages of planning a tour to the Cayman Islands to play a couple of men’s and women’s rugby games and catch up with our old friend Joe. Keep your eyes peeled for more information on the tour as the planning shapes up. As for closing thoughts, we will leave that to Joe who reflected fondly on his time playing with the Enfield RFC:
JW: I am happy to say that Enfield RFC is the best club I have ever played for. The love in Enfield RFC cannot be compared to any club I’ve played for.
I hope I can come and play with you boys again. Even for a game or two. Say hi to the boys I think of you guys often.
Thanks to Caroline Deegan [Caroline Deegan Photography (Cayman Islands)] for the use of her images in this article.