About 20 Lakes District Secondary School (LDSS) students are getting ready to watch the 2017 HSBC Canada Sevens tournament in Vancouver this weekend.
The competition, which will take place at the B.C. Place Stadium on March 11-12, will feature 16 of the world’s best men’s rugby sevens teams.
“This trip gives our team the chance to see what rugby looks like when played by the most talented players in the world,” said LDSS teacher and coach Matt Moore. “It’s like young hockey players watching the NHL and getting inspired by what they see.”
Sixteen LDSS students travelled to Vancouver last year to watch the tournament.
“Last year our players even learned a whole bunch of new warm-up drills by watching the international teams warm up on the sidelines.”
The LDSS rugby team consists of approximately 15 seniors, 15 juniors and between seven and 15 girls.
In order to help make their dream trip a reality this year, the team fundraised during a school play at LDSS earlier this season.
The team also relies on fundraisers to support the players’ attempts to make it to the B.C. Rugby Union provincials as members of regional representative teams. Although there often isn’t a northern representative team, last year LDSS had a player win a spot on the Okanagan under 18 provincial representative team through a highly competitive tryout.
“It is a competition outside high-school rugby, and is a great opportunity for our players to try and take their game to a level of elite competition,” explained Moore. “Because the tryouts were in the Okanagan, and the games were spread across the province, the financial cost for this opportunity was very high.”
The LDSS team is also preparing for a number of tournaments this season, including tournaments in Prince Rupert in late April and Smithers in May.
“Generally we plan to make at least two trips during fall and again during spring to Prince Rupert, Terrace, Smithers or Williams Lake.”
Moore stressed the importance that rugby has in the development of students, especially when it comes to developing social skills.
“We really encourage the players from different teams to get to know each other,” said Moore. “Every junior tournament we hold ends with a mixed game in which players from different towns form teams together and play a fun game, rather than with a playoff.”
“Rugby is a rough game, but it’s not as chaotic as people think,” he continued.
“If you understand the rules of rugby – no forward passing, and no whistle after a tackle – it’s very structured and it actually forces the players to work together rather than relying on one or two superstars,” he added. “Players really have to learn to respect their opponents, learn how important technique is, and really bond with their teammates for everyone to stay safe.”