École Cobble Hill and Queen Margaret’s School meet during the elementary rugby jamboree. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

École Cobble Hill and Queen Margaret’s School meet during the elementary rugby jamboree. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Elementary rugby program continues to grow

16 teams from 13 schools take part in jamboree

For the third year in a row, rugby teams representing schools from across the Cowichan Valley gathered at the Cowichan Rugby Football Club earlier this month to test their skills in a jamboree.

Sixteen teams from 13 different public and private schools were in action, with at least 160 players involved, reported Alex Aitken Elementary School principal Fergus Horsburgh, one of the event’s organizers along with Kenton McNutt from the CRFC junior program.

“It’s definitely growing every year,” Horsburgh said.

For the first time in the program’s history, the jamboree included an all-girls division consisting of four teams. All teams previously had been co-ed, and most still are. It was important for many of the coaches to grow the girls’ side of the game, however.

“Almost all the coaches are female players, many of whom have been on national teams,” Horsburgh noted. “They’re very passionate about girls and women’s rugby. It played out well for us.”

The teams played a total of 33 matches on nine different pitches squeezed onto the CRFC field.

“Every year we have to shrink the fields and change the number of pitches,” Horsburgh said.

Parents enjoy that their kids are being introduced to rugby through a non-contact format, and many families came out to watch the matches. The response from the young players has been fantastic.

“The kids are absolutely loving it,” Horsburgh stated. “One of the things that’s really nice to see is that when they get to high school, the numbers who are trying out are going up, in part because they’re getting exposure to rugby early on.”