Heading into their final game of the season against Don Ross on Wednesday, the Whistler Secondary rugby team is undefeated — not bad for a program that’s in its second season.
The team is for kids in Grades 8 and 9, with 12 girls and 18 boys taking part this year.
The team won its first game against Pender Harbour 30-10, then defeated Argyle Secondary 24-20. The team then tied Howe Sound 15-15, while playing in about 10 cm of snow.
Last season Whistler Secondary lost all four games, but with some experience and coaching the Whistler players are starting to get the hang of the sport.
“At practice we teach the basics, the skills and rules and things, but the only way to learn is by playing matches as well,” said coach and Whistler Secondary athletics director Peter Train. “It’s good having a referee who knows how to coach as well, and keeps the game flowing and explains why he’s blowing the whistle. In a couple of years these players will be playing proper rugby.”
The league is unofficial at this point, but next season the goal is to create a Sea to Sky League. Howe Sound Secondary is putting together a team for the first time in 10 years, and Don Ross is also interested. Pender Harbour and schools from West Vancouver have also expressed interest, said Train.
Playing co-ed is only possible for Grade 8-9 students because girls and boys are more or less equal developmentally, according to Train. When a player is a lot bigger, they are bumped up into the Grade 9 game to keep things even.
The format is two 30-minute halves, with 12 or 15 players per team on the field, depending on the turnout of players.
“We liaise with the other coaches to make it safe and keep it sensible, but other than that they are real games with contact,” he said.
After Wednesday’s game against Don Ross the team will break for the season, although there is a possibility that the team will play at rugby tournaments in the spring. There’s also talk of taking the team on tour.
The junior and senior boys teams will get underway in the spring, also with a full slate of games. If more coaches come forward to assist, Train would like to be able to run a girl’s rugby program as well.
“It’s been really popular, we’ve had a good turnout and the players were all game to play in the snow,” said Train. “It’s a new sport to a lot of kids at the school, but they enjoy the practices and the games and the camaraderie, and we have the possibility of fielding of a pretty good team in the future.”