Sports

Esquimalt High school rugby academy launches this fall

Esquimalt High school is set to become the next rugby powerhouse of the Capital Region by launching a rugby academy next fall.

The Sea Wolves Academy will be overseen by B.C. Rugby hall-of-famer Gary Johnston, the architect behind Oak Bay high's thriving rugby program.

"You build a great team one player at a time," Johnston said. "The thing I can do is make sure the PE program is well done so kids get a positive experience from it. That's what I did at Oak Bay, and it works quite well."

The 30-person boys and girls programs kick off in September and includes a "who's who" of rugby, said Tom Woods, Esquimalt High rugby academy advisory board chair.

"Whatever Gary has touched has turned to gold," Woods said. "And we've got Arielle Dubissette-Borrice from our national women's sevens team to help with the women, and (former Castaway Wanderers star) Kenny Goodland will help with the men. We've also got Ed Garlinge as the program department head."

It will take at least a few years before the academy is attracting the best high school students, said Johnston, adding his latest appointment is a return to Esquimalt's rugby program. He previously coached at the former Highrock Junior High in the 1970s.

"Now that my commitment to Oak Bay high school is finished and I'm retired from that, it's a chance to build something here in Esquimalt," he said.

The academy is accepting new applicants now. Go to ehsra.ca to learn more.

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