Rugby Canada’s Todd Silverthorn dreams of the day a West Shore student grows up to play for the national team.
A new initiative put together by the national rugby organization, Colwood Rotary and School District 62 is hoped to help make that happen.
“It would nice to see 10 years down the line if some kid said he first started playing rugby at one of these Rotary events, ” said Silverthorn, manager of community programs. “That would be unreal.”
Using money raised by the Rotary through 50/50 draws at rugby events, Rugby Canada created rugby team starter kits to distribute middle and secondary schools on the West Shore.
The kits each contain five balls, pinnies, field cones, mouth guards and a referee whistle. The kits will help schools continue or start rugby teams and to bring back a once thriving sport in the area. Rugby, once prevalent on the West Shore, has waned in popularity over the years. Organizers are hoping that with Rugby Canada now located in the West Shore interest will once again be sparked.
“We’re really happy to be give these starter kits … to try and get the culture coming back,” Colwood Rotary director Russ Lazaruk said, “and give kids the opportunity to learn the sport. It’s a fabulous sport.”
With positions for people of all body types, equal opportunities for boys and girls, a focus on teamwork and a limited need for equipment, rugby is a fabulous school sport, said organizers.
“It takes a community to educate a child,” said board of education chair Wendy Hobbs. “To have Rugby Canada and the Rotary and the school district all working towards giving a different education, rugby, to our kids, I think it’s fantastic.”
Each kit cost $100 to $150 each. The rest of the money raised will go towards field rentals and future events.
An event is already planned for April 5, when SD62 students will visit the Rugby Canada facility in Langford to play a seven-a-side tournament, meet national players, learn skills and enjoy a barbecue.