Even though there’s still snow on the ground, rugby season has officially kicked off in Fort St. John.
Using the Indoor Field House, the Fort St. John Rugby Association held its first two practices last weekend to get players touching the ball and back into the swing of things.
“There was a small turnout but it’ll get better,” said Steve Woods, one of the coaches. “Saturday night the kids had just finished their exams and it’s quite a ways away before we have our first game.”
“I think the numbers will improve and it’s looking pretty good this year.”
On Saturday night and Sunday afternoon a handful of young rugby hopefuls hit the artificial turf, running drills with the coaches for a few hours.
“A lot of them just want to play games, but I know that the more they practice the better they’ll play,” Woods said. “By word of mouth, it’ll get going and the big sports will finish off pretty soon. Lots of times kids come out and they realize how much fun it is.”
Rugby only returned to Fort St. John and Dawson Creek last spring after a 10-year hiatus. Following a short, but happy, rugby season, Woods and the rest of the Fort St. John Rugby Association are hoping to work more closely with regional towns to get the ball rolling again, so to speak.
“To get together some regional guys from Chetwynd or Tumbler Ridge or whatever, we could maybe get 25 kids together and train starting in June and head down (to Vancouver) in July and try to compete,” Woods said.
“We’d like to see a couple junior high teams in town, too. They would all, if we can get them together, play Dawson Creek and Grande Prairie. 12 years ago Prespatou had a team, Tumbler Ridge had a team, Chetwynd and Dawson had teams and they would all come here and we’d have a mini tournament a couple times a month. It was pretty neat so I’d like to see that again too.”
The FSJRA has also been discussing combining forces with Dawson Creek this spring in terms of training.
“We’re wondering if maybe we can invite the Dawson guys to come up and train with us because we have the facility and we don’t know what they have down there,” said Brad Brain, another local coach. “Maybe they’re interested in coming up.”
“It’s such a cool facility,” Brain added about the field house. “It’s super cool. After a while you forget you’re indoors, it’s such a natural-feeling surface to run on. You forget you’re inside during the winter with a roof over your head.”
It will be another couple months before the snow melts and the kids can head outdoors for practice and to play some matches, but in the meantime, they can sharpen their skills indoors and get a head start on training.
“For training it should give us an instant leg-up,” Brain said. “We can be working on stuff months in advance of [our competition].”
“I think it’s going to be great,” Woods said. “Maybe this year will be bigger and more exciting.”
For now the FSJRA will train Saturdays and Sundays at the Indoor Field House.
“Enthusiasm will hopefully ramp up as the warmer weather approaches,” Brain said. “We’d like to encourage anyone with interest in the game to get in touch and come out.”