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Burns Lake touch rugby makes a triumphant return

Practices sessions scheduled to kick off June 8, at LDSS track
Last month, as part of a fundraiser event, the team, coaches and parents got together and went around cleaning windows and outside of businesses to say thank you to the community for supporting them. (Laura Blackwell/ Lakes District News)

Burns Lake Touch Rugby is making a triumphant comeback this year after a hiatus.

At a recent cleanup initiative, the team, coaches, and parents rallied together to raise funds for the sport.

While thanking the community for their support, coach Jordan Henderson said the team is gearing up for an exciting season, with practice sessions kicking off on June 8, at the Lakes District Secondary School’s (LDSS) track.

The rugby program was reignited this spring through the shared enthusiasm of coaches Terah Albertson, Jeremy Gooding, Frazer Mcgaw, Henderson said.

Henderson said LDSS boasted a vibrant rugby program prior to the onset of Covid-19 pandemic with the last team in 2018 performing well in province-wide tournaments.

This year, approximately 12 boys and 2 girls have already committed to the team’s practices. The teams consist of high school students from grade 8 to 12.

Henderson emphasized on inclusivity and is calling on more youngsters to come join the sport.

“We encourage all skill levels and abilities to come participate in a practice and see what rugby is about,” he said.

He also said there are no financial barriers for aspiring players with no fees required to join the team or participate in tournaments.

Practice sessions will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the field by the basketball courts at the high school.

The team has already engaged in exhibition games and tournaments beyond Burns Lake, including matches against teams from Vanderhoof, Haida Gwaii, Houston and Terrace.

“We really enjoyed it as it was the first opportunity for our students to show how hard they’ve been working at practice since the beginning of April,” Henderson said.

“The kids have really picked up the sport and it’s evident to see that they’ve really bought into not only the sport, but the team as well,” he added.

The team will be hosting another fundraiser this week on Thursday, as a result of which there won’t be practice. Fundraisers are crucial to ensure the players have proper equipment and to sustain the program’s growth.

From essential gear like tackle pads to aspirations of attending tournaments in Vancouver, the Okanagan, and even Alberta, every contribution counts in shaping the team’s future, Henderson said.

“We spent our first few weeks having to really thoroughly teach the students how to tackle, catch, and pass. The students picked it up very well but we had to teach them with little to no equipment. Tackle pads, scrum pads, and ruck pads would really help the coaches be able to drill down on proper technique and body positioning in tackles, rucks and scrums.”

Henderson said the community support has been outpouring with local businesses and individuals stepping up to help with the financial needs of the team.

Meanwhile, Henderson is calling on volunteers and coaches to come support the team. “Whether you have rugby experience or just want to help out, we welcome you,” he said.

The team is currently playing rugby 7’s with hope to expand to rugby 15’s in the future, Henderson said.

High school students interested in trying out the game and head to the track field on Saturday, June 8 at 3 p.m.

They can also meet Jeremy Gooding at the school for more information or check out the Burns Lake Touch Rugby Facebook page.

About the Author: Binny Paul

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