The L.V. Rogers Bombers rugby teams are hoping to have three key players along for the ride when they go on a tour through Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland in March.
LVR rugby coach Brad Swan says the program is asking the public for help in raising money for a trio of students who can’t afford the $4,000 trip.
“I just don’t think it’s fair for some of these kids who are just good students and amazing athletes to have their situation predicated by family finances,” said Swan. “We do go above and beyond behind the scenes that people aren’t aware of, but this is the stuff we have to do. We care, these kids are family to us.”
The 16-day trip will include four games and four-to-six international training sessions for the senior boys and girls squads, along with tours of historical sites.
It’s the fourth such tour LVR has taken organized by Swan and fellow coaches Mike Joyce and Nikolas Wood. Swan said he still has fond memories of rugby tours from his youth.
“It’s something they’ll never forget. As far as the elite level coaching that they get over there, it benefits the players, it benefits the coaches and in turn it benefits our program. Everyone evolves and learns, coaches and players.”
The touring teams are technically under the Kootenay Rugby Union banner and not LVR because the coaches have included players from Cranbrook and Castlegar as a way of spreading talent throughout the region.
Currently there are 16 boys and 13 girls set to make the trip. Swan said opposing teams will either lend the girls’ side two players or agree to play 13 on 13 to make up for the short bench.
“It’s very unprecedented for rugby to have a school send two separate programs,” said Swan.
LVR’s boys team has had plenty of success over the last decade, including a provincial championship in 2016 and a silver medal at provincials last year, and Swan said the girls’ team is on a similar trajectory.
“We’ve got a top-ranked program. I’ve got kids who get scouted to go to [the University of British Columbia] and the [Univerity of Victoria]. I’ve got kids playing in Australia on pro contracts. I’ve got kids on the national radar as well. There’s a lot of good coming out of our program.”
In total, Swan said he’s hoping to raise $12,000 prior to March 14. That, he said, will give three students a trip they’ll treasure forever.
“It’s an experience of a lifetime,” he said.
Donations can be made online at https://www.gofundme.com/bombersontour.