Mini rugby booms in the Cowichan Valley

Unprecedented expansion of the Cowichan Rugby Football Club’s mini rugby programs this spring has helped build a strong foundation for the future of the sport in the Valley.

The club has held six-week mini rugby camps at its home field on Herd Road for several years, but this year, the program expanded to South Cowichan with camps at Frances Kelsey Secondary.

Coordinated by Kenton McNutt and Matthuw Ronald-Jones, the camps attracted 110 kids in four age groups: U6, U8, U10 and U12. Only about 18 to 20 had played the sport before.

Both boys and girls flocked to the camp in record numbers.

"The girls ratio was really high, close to 50 per cent," McNutt noted.

Participants in the camp were treated to high-level instruction from such accomplished athletes and coaches as Nicole Crowley, a Shawnigan Lake School grad currently playing for the UVic Vikes and the daughter of Canadian men’s team head coach Kieran Crowley; Ander Munro, a former national team captain; and John Tait, former head coach of the national women’s team.

Also stepping up were the rugby club itself, which paid for field costs at Kelsey

so parents didn’t have to shell out, and Pemberton Holmes, which donated the food for last Monday’s end-of-season barbecue.

"The rugby community on the southern Island really came together on this," McNutt said.

With this year’s success, the goal for next spring is to add a third location, in the Ladysmith/Chemainus area.

The mini rugby regular season runs from September to April with a break in December and January. Cowichan teams play sides from Nanaimo, Victoria, Comox and Campbell River. For more information about the programs, email kentonmcnutt@royallepage.ca

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