The SVRSS Tigers Boys and Girls Rugby teams took part in the 13th annual John Keogh Rugby Festival last weekend (April 14-15) in Brandon.
“The tournament is an introduction to rugby, for those who have never played before, but also for all teams for the beginning of the season,” said Coach George van der Walt.
“Overall, the tournament went very well. Any rookie would be a little bit nervous in the beginning, but after three games, you know what’s expected of you and what you need to do.”
While the tournament does not count towards the season points, it is an excellent learning opportunity for all players.
“Basically, you just play, and sometimes the referees break things down a little slower, or do certain things a little differently to give the players experience,” said van der Walt.
“Our girls team was on the short side, so other teams gave us players to fill our team. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere.
“You can sub players as many times as you want, and we played everybody in every game,” continued van der Walt.
Both teams played three games through the weekend, the boys facing the Vincent Massey Vikings, Crocus Plainsmen, and Minnedosa Chancellors, while the girls faced the Vincent Massey Vikings, Souris Sabres and Crocus Plainsmen.
“While we know how many tries each team has, the score is irrelevant in these games,” said van der Walt. “The training and learning experience is far more valuable.
“Sometimes, the players don’t know how fast the game is, and when they start playing, they realize how quickly they have to be on their opponents and the ball. By the end of the tournament, they realize what they have to do as a team to get their tries.
“If you can run the ball and get a try, then as a team, that’s one of the most important things in working together,” continued van der Walt. “By the end of the weekend, both teams did exactly that.
“Rugby is definitely a team sport.”
The boys team has quite a few rookies, but some returning players, while the girls team is basically a new team as there was no team last year.
“For the girls, we have 13 committed players,” said van der Walt. “Usually we field 15 players but hopefully we don’t have too many injuries, and because we have committment from these players, we’re going to keep it going.
“For the boys, the veterans are stepping up to help. That’s the whole purpose of keeping consistency. The seniors take over a little bit of the education and the juniors can learn from them.
Both the boys and girls will face off at home against the Dauphin Clippers today. Girls kick-off is at 4:30 p.m., while boys kick-off is at 5:30 p.m..
“We are looking forward to a great season and invite people to come support our rugby teams,” concluded van der Walt.