Mount Baker Secondary School rugby players have laced up their cleats and hit the field for the season.
The season started off last week at Stanley Humphries Secondary in Castlegar where both the girls and boys split their games.
Around four to five of the girls on the Mount Baker team are headed to North Vancouver for the BC Rugby High School Girls’ Provincial Sevens Championship, which starts April 25-26.
“We are excited because the girls are joining the BC High School Girls Rugby Association, which is the body that governs them,” said Sinclair.
“This will be the first year the girls actually compete province-wide so it’s kind of exciting.”
The players have been put together with other schools in the region to make a Kootenay team including players from Invermere, Kimberley, Cranbrook, Castlegar, Nelson, Trail and Grand Forks.
They will also bring a Kootenay team to the BC Rugby High School Girls’ Provincial 15s Championships on Vancouver Island in late May.
Victoria Hall, Grade 12, is one of the Mount Baker students heading to provincials and is excited about the opportunity.
“I think what makes the Kootenay [team] stand out is when we go to play on the coast we go as the whole region,” she said.
“You get girls from all over so you get different backgrounds and different skill sets. I think that’s what makes us good because we all come together and go.”
Hall has been on the team for five years, and what really drew her to it was the fact it’s a sport for anyone.
“You need all types of people,” she said. “You need all sorts of body shapes, weights, backgrounds and ideas on the team. You can’t just have tall girls who are fast. You need girls who can get down low and are low to the ground, you need girls that are tall and fast and you need girls who can smash other girls. There’s not a single person who can’t play rugby.”
From these events, Sinclair says he hopes to get more female participation amongst all the high schools.
“So eventually we aren’t sending a Kootenay team, but the zone champion to the provincial championships,” he said, noting participation has gone in waves for the girl’s team.
For the guys, there has been a large turnover of players, with the team relying mostly on two experienced players. Sinclair has been impressed with the new players on the team so far.
“All the novice guys really stepped up,” added Sinclair.
Back in the fall, when the squads were playing rugby 7s, the boys beat LV Rogers Secondary School from Nelson, they hope they can do that in Rugby 15s.
Cole Johnson, Grade 11, he’s excited about this season and has his eyes set on beating the Nelson team.
“Hopefully if we practice enough we will be able to beat the Nelson team,” he said. “They are our biggest competition in this game so far, and I feel like we can achieve that if we do practice more and work on our hands a lot more.”
Johnson is in his fourth year playing rugby and he says he loves the mental aspect of the sport.
“Everyone thinks it’s just a physical sport, but the game is a lot more mental. Finding the gaps and listening to your team, talking to your team — if you don’t do that you don’t really have a team. That’s the one thing I find most exciting about rugby,” he said.
The rugby squads will be at Purcell Field in Marysville on May 2 for a tournament, then at home at Mount Baker on May 8. They will close out their final play day in Nelson on May 15.
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