It’s been awhile since opposing schools from around the Northwest have set foot on a Rupert field or ice rink.
But for the first time in the 2015-16 school year, the Charles Hays Secondary School (CHSS) Rainmakers welcomed three teams to their humble abode at Patullo Field last Friday and Saturday for a girls’ sevens rugby play day and boys’ sevens rugby informal tune-up.
Both host teams found success in their inaugural weekend of competitive play, though each squad’s level of success was measured a touch differently thanks to the very first full season of CHSS girls’ rugby.
“I think they’re doing really well,” said girls’ rugby head coach Amanda Barney on Saturday.
“They’ve played really good defence. We just held Smithers to a draw, which we’ve never done before, so I’m really proud of them.”
The girls’ team fell by only one try in each game on Friday afternoon in the pouring rain, losing 10-5 to Vanderhoof and 5-0 to the Smithers Gryphons.
Then on Saturday, the ‘Makers tied the Gryphs 0-0.
“We only had two practices before this weekend when we were asked to host … We’re new enough to rugby where there’s no game plans, [we work on] all fundamentals. They’re tackling really well … and they’re doing good running,” said Barney.
An area to improve upon would be communication, said the coach.
“They’re not talking and … they’re picking the ball up too much, but we’ll get there,” she said.
“These play days give the juniors an opportunity. I think if Smithers or Vanderhoof were playing their strongest teams, the scores would be different, but what I think is happening is it’s an opportunity for everybody to improve and I think [the teams] are representing northern B.C. well,” Barney added.
“If we can get more numbers, then I think we’ll have a successful rugby program.”
All players who took part in the weekend action were on the year-end squad last year.
For the boys, head coach Andy Enns’ crew were in fine form to start Saturday morning off.
Not 30 seconds into their first game against the Terrace Kermodes, the ‘Makers scored, with Cody Schaeffer blazing down the wing and notching the team’s first try of the day.
Schaeffer scored two more and Ryley Main notched a try for himself in a 26-5 win for the Rupert side.
“They were very good. We’ve got a couple of brand new players who have never touched a ball before this week and we’ve got another exchange student, so we’re keeping up with our imports for our team, which is good. We’ve also got a couple more new guys keen to play,” said Enns.
The team is ripe with speed and tenacity down the sides and imposing muscle up the middle to make for a formidable offensive threat whenever they have the ball.
“We’ve got a lot of speed up the side with Ryley Main and Cody Schaeffer, plus with Chase Woelders leading the pack up the middle, we’re very strong in our forwards. He’s as fast as most of our backs,” said the coach.
On Saturday, the final scores of the day ended up with a 10-5 win for Vanderhoof over Smithers (girls), a 0-0 tie between CHSS and Smithers (girls), a 26-5 for the CHSS boys over Terrace, a 5-5 tie between CHSS and Vanderhoof (girls) and a 17-5 boys win for CHSS over Terrace once again, with Main scoring three tries.