On Monday, parents clutched their umbrellas and cheered on as rugby returned to the Junior School for the first time in 20 years. Despite the rain, the Grades 4 and 5 students had a terrific time playing their first home game against Willows Elementary School.
Grade 4 teacher Ms. Jane Rees and her husband Mr. Spencer Robinson started the Mini Rugby programme at the Junior School last month in order to give boys and girls the chance to play together in a supportive team environment. Mr. Robinson is teaching the basic skills and coaching, while Ms. Rees is the teacher-sponsor and assistant coach.
“At this point, it’s for the fun and the development rather than the competition,” says Ms. Rees. When asked why they brought the Mini Rugby programme to the school, Ms. Rees answered “my husband and I are rugby enthusiasts,” which is a mild understatement. Spencer Robinson, a renowned player, has coached the Canadian men at Sevens and the Canadian womens team at the provincial and national levels. Both Ms. Rees and Mr. Robinson coached and refereed on Monday.
The Mini Rugby season runs from April 8 to May 9. Now playing in their fourth week, most of the students are learning the game from scratch but have been picking it up quickly, learning tackling, running and passing techniques. Mini Rugby is a modification of the standard game, designed specifically for younger players. Thirty Junior School students are on the team, and on Monday, all of them were more than eager to get a turn to play.
Grade 5 student Keeley Copeland is very excited to be playing rugby, something she’s wanted to do since coming to SMUS last year. “I like all the fun drills we do,” she says, “the running and the passing.” From the sidelines, Keeley’s mother grimaced a little as she watched her daughter’s first tackle while Keeley’s father enthusiastically noted the milestone.
The Junior School team is preparing to compete in a pool of 12 other junior teams in the 36th Annual Greater Victoria Mini Rugby tournament on May 9 at Mount Douglas Secondary School. Ms. Rees and Mr. Robinson hope the Junior School Rugby team expands and evolves, helping the students have fun playing as a team and encouraging them to pursue their tackling talents into their Middle and Senior School years.