The present and future of rugby look to be bright at Chatelech Secondary School.
On Wednesday, April 1, an inaugural girls’ camp was held with 14 players on hand, most of whom had never picked up a rugby ball before. In the afternoon, a boys’ camp was held, the second such camp in recent weeks.
Both camps were hugely successful and will continue to help bolster Chatelech’s program, according to coach Drew Murphy.
“There has been a long history of rugby on the Coast. We seem to always go to town and have had lots of success with the boys. Now we want to start having that same success with a girls’ program,” Murphy said. “We had a couple of girls come out to the last boys’ camp, and after that, it really didn’t take much to get other girls out. The word spread like wildfire.”
On hand for the April 1 camps were Curry Hitchborn, director of rugby for Northstar Rugby. He is also a forwards’ coach for UBC, a U19 provincial coach and a guest national coach for age-grade rugby. Also helping out were Luke Gray, a professional rugby player with the ACT Brumbies, and Daniel Weidner, a former national age-grade player and U16 provincial coach.
Hitchborn was more than a little impressed by the level of commitment, passion and desire shown by the female players in the morning camp when Coast Reporter paid a visit just an hour into the session.
“We run a rugby development company and our goal is to bring rugby to communities that don’t have a lot of rugby. This is our second time up here, but our first time running an all women’s camp, and we are completely blown away by the commitment out here,” he said. “Their ability to not only listen, but also their desire to get better in something that they have never done — I have never seen this before.”
Hitchborn had the opportunity to play against the Gibsons Pigs years ago, so he knows the Sunshine Coast has a passion for the sport.
“We know there is a huge rugby community up here and it’s only two guys, Brian Scarr and Drew Murphy, here at Chatelech. We are very happy to come up here and pass on our knowledge and help grow this great sport,” Hitchborn said. “We only have one female player who has played rugby before, but they all come from various athletic backgrounds, which certainly helps. But it takes a lot for someone to come out here and learn a new sport. We’re thrilled. They are all doing an outstanding job.”
Throughout the morning, the coaches led the players through a series of basic skills including catching, passing, rucking (which is maintaining your own ball) and tackling.
“We are not doing a lot of tactics; we are just doing basic technical skills and then end the day with a sevens tournament,” Hitchborn said.
In the afternoon, the men’s camp touched on some of the basic skills, but since a lot of that was covered at the previous camp, the coaches put the players through more game play.
“Rugby is a unique sport like that because the best way to learn is to play,” he added.
Murphy said plans are to continue to grow the girls program and get connected with national-level female coaches for more coaching sessions.
“This is just the first stages of building a girls’ program at Chatelech,” he said. “Girls’ rugby is one of the fastest growing sports in schools, so there is lots of competition in the Lower Mainland. The boys’ program is successful and we think we have a great program in place. We want to create an atmosphere of success for the girls’ program too.”