Sports

Rugby club trying to refresh

Nanaimo Hornets player Jarett Richardson, left, uses the blocking bag to fend off teammate Brad Marshall during practice Tuesday night at May Richards Bennett Pioneer Park. - GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin
Nanaimo Hornets player Jarett Richardson, left, uses the blocking bag to fend off teammate Brad Marshall during practice Tuesday night at May Richards Bennett Pioneer Park.
— image credit: GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

This is the time of year when the Nanaimo Hornets really want to create some buzz.

The Hornets RFC rugby club is in recruitment mode these days, and it’s looking for players at all levels – minis five and up, youths 12 to 18, men and women. Club president Darren Wicks said he’s even looking for masters men for the Yoos-to-Bees side.

The new president said it’s important to bring in newcomers, and said the minis and youths can eventually feed into the adult divisions and keep the Hornets strong.

One of the challenges of recruiting for rugby, he said, is the sport’s reputation.

“There’s a huge myth that rugby is a really barbaric sport and it couldn’t be any further from the truth,” Wicks said. “I would say this is actually safer than some other sports that are in town now.”

He said “back in the day” rugby might have been a rougher game.

“It’s still a contact sport and it’s fast and it’s tough, but all the cheap stuff is coming out of the game now,” he said.

This season, 2014-15, is a good time to capitalize on the sport’s momentum, Wicks said. Canada’s runner-up performance at the recent women’s World Cup brought in some new viewership, and the men’s World Cup next year could do the same.

Even little kids can sign up to play rugby, as tackling isn’t introduced until the youth levels, Wicks said.

“A lot of it is just playful stuff,” he said. “Ball handling and fun games. There isn’t really contact involved … There’s a process and steps to get to that stage.”

Brad Marshall, captain of the Hornets Firsts, said kids can get a lot out of the game.

“I think it’s always important for children to play team sports growing up, so you get a sense of camaraderie and working together,” he said.

It isn’t just for the roughest, toughest kids, he said.

“There’s really big kids, there’s the really small wiry ones, the fast ones,” he said. “I don’t think you need to have any specific body to play this sport. I think it’s all just what’s up in your head and what’s in your heart at the end of the day.”

Doubleheader starts season

The Nanaimo Hornets get to start rugby season right, with matches against their friends and rivals, the Cowichan Piggies. Game times aren’t finalized, but the men and women will both play Sept. 13 at Pioneer Park.

The Hornets women won the B.C. Div. 2 title last spring, the Hornets men are perennial league finalists, and both sides expect to be right in the mix again.

“We’re a competitive club, so no matter what, we’re always going to be striving to try and win the championship,” said Marshall.

Wicks said those winning ways motivate all the Hornets.

“The drive in the club, it goes right through,” he said. Right through to the women, right through to the juniors, everybody’s on a high from those wins.”

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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