Having qualified to play at the provincial tournament in Victoria for the very first time last year, the NVSS girls rugby team looks to repeat its success this weekend at the 7-a-side Zone Championships — this time as hosts.
Playing against six teams in the northwest zone that hailed from Prince Rupert, Houston, and Smithers, the NVSS team will kick off the tournament with a match against Smithers — who had hosted last year’s zone tournament — at 2:40 p.m. on Friday in Vanderhoof.
With seven players to a team playing two seven-minute halves per match, the 7-a-side format is a new Olympic sport, said Sean Rodgers, one of the team’s two coaches.
“It’s fast and furious,” Rodgers said.
He explained that with 14 girls including four junior players, it’s the team’s fifth season as they compete this weekend against four senior teams of Gr. 11 and 12 players, and two junior teams encompassing the lower grades.
Though only mid-October, the team already played seven matches this season with training two times a week, while teams in the Lower Mainland typically plays from February to April — when snow normally still covers Vanderhoof, Rodgers said.
With the provincial competition taking place in the Lower Mainland in April, the winter months will provide ample time for the team to fundraise, with the possibility of a trip to Prince Rupert’s artificial turf in early March for preparation, he said.
“The biggest challenge is training,” Rodgers said. “It’s hard to train in the gym.”
Playing against teams from all over the province this year will also allow the girls to show their experience, as most of the team have played since Gr. 8, said Kia Bruvold, another coach of the team.
“It shows what the girls are made out of,” Bruvold said, adding that she is excited to see the girls go so far, as she had also played for NVSS’s rugby team in the past.
She added that last year’s provincial tournament had coincided with the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series also hosted by Victoria, allowing the girls rugby team to watch Team Canada compete with teams around the world.
For Dakota Moldowan, Gr. 12, the team will certainly be competing with the rest of the province in April.
“I’m really confident that we’ll do really well,” Moldowan said. “I like our team this year — we’ve bonded.”
Having trained with the team since Gr. 8, Moldowan enjoyed the game for the company as well.
“The best thing? Playing with people I grew up with,” she said, adding that she had grown up around Rodgers when she was little. “I want to thank the coaches for taking us this far and putting up with us.”