By Adam Vickers, Sports Editor
Have you ever wondered, “Who are those people running around with no equipment on carrying an object that looks like a cross between a soccer ball and a football?” Well, those people are athletes called rugby players, and they go all out; they do not need pads or helmets. Rugby players are hard-nosed, thick skinned, and passionate; they play a game that requires skill, technique, and guts. Rugby is a fast growing sport, with countries from all over the world coming out to compete. North America is seeing a huge growth in the sport, particularly in women’s rugby. Women’s rugby has become so popular in Canada that the Women’s World Cup is even being hosted in Edmonton this coming year. We are fortunate enough to have two teams at UNBC, men and women’s.
The two teams are in the process of being rebuilt, and were fortunate enough to have recently been able to add two coaches; Jesse Olynyk and Derek Pue. Jesse Olynyk played for the University of Victoria and was an alternate for Team Canada, while Derek Pue is an avid player well connected in the rugby community. With Olynyk and Pue, the teams have taken strides in rebuilding the rugby program and have had a lot of support from young, ambitious rugby players.
The women’s rugby team in general has had a lot of growth this year with the help of the coaches, and a strong core of girls leading the way. The team’s most recent adventure was to Vancouver for a tournament where, according to Melissa Lasure, the team’s progress, “from the first game to the fourth game was unbelievable” in a situation where girls were thrown into positions with little knowledge of what to do except catch the ball. Unfortunately, it was short lived at four games, but the team has not stopped there and has started honing their skills at the Northern Sports Center with weekly training sessions and field skill practices. With consistent coaching and support from the leaders on team, the team has slowly started building on their already strong core. No team can be a team without goals in mind, and this year the team sat down and looked at what their goals really were. With the guidance of Pue, the team set their goals for the season; they are currently working towards reaching those goals. The goals set by the team are to go to Edmonton at the end of the year, work on fitness and skills, and try to be competitive at the tournament in Edmonton. To get fit, the team works out twice a week at the Sports Center, focusing on building strength and conditioning. To get better at the game, the team works on skills and techniques from 7:30-9:00 on Thursdays, also at the Northern Sports Center.
The teams are very welcoming to new players, but if you are a guy you should expect to be committed, or you might hear from Melissa Lasure. Lasure harped on guys for not showing up to practices saying that, “the men from UNBC are so flakey.” Come on guys, get out there and prove her wrong. With the New Year fast approaching, this could be an opportunity to try something new and exciting. If interested in joining the women’s team, they have a website (www.unbcwomensrugby.com) and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. For updates on tournament results and team activates the team also has a Facebook page (UNBC Women’s Rugby) and twitter (@unbcwomensrugby).