Wednesday, 17 Apr 2024

Annual ‘Learn to play Rugby’ event held in Saskatoon on Saturday

Hockey, baseball and curling — those are just a few of the sports Canadians have historically grown up playing.

But there’s another game that has been gaining popularity in this country over the last few years: rugby.

KREMS Rugby president Jason Brandt says Saturday’s ‘Learn to play Rugby’ event is all about teaching newcomers the ins and outs of the sport.

“Right now we have our annual camp where we invite current members, new members and we go through a four-hour period of the basics of rugby,” he said.

“[Everything] from running, catching and passing the ball — every element you need to step onto the field and feel safe playing the game.”

Brandt has been playing rugby for seven years and says he’s seen the game grow a lot in Saskatchewan.

“In the North Saskatchewan Rugby Union alone, we have seen our minis program grow from almost nothing to approximately 200 kids,” he added. “We’ve seen our junior program at the high school level explode in numbers in Saskatoon, Warman, and Martensville. At the seniors level we’ve seen new teams [Prince Albert] come forward recently.”

A handful of players from the province are currently playing professionally across the globe.

In addition, a growing number of kids are wanting to try after seeing the country do well recently, according to veteran player Mason Switzer.

“With rugby making its way to the Olympics and Canada winning gold, it has revolutionized the game, said Switzer. “It’s one the fastest-growing sports in the world. Coming from a football and wrestling background and being brought into rugby, the last six years I’ve been playing it’s been getting bigger and bigger.”

The camp saw roughly 40 athletes take part — some new players, some more seasoned.

“We’ve seen our veterans who are coming back we’ve had guys that people have recruited off the street,” said executive member Mike McGuffin. “We managed to get three guys from the stands who were watching, and we said, ‘Come on down we’ve got a spare pair of shorts.’ They came down and ran around with us.”

With the rugby season kicking off in just a few months, the KREMS is trying to recruit new players. And its motto is a convincing one: come out and play rugby.

What do you have to lose?

“What do I need? Drive, determination, don’t give up and heart — that’s all we care for,” explained McGuffin. “Do I have to have an athletic ability? No, it takes all shapes and sizes to play this game. We will find a role for you on the field that you will be able to fit into.”

The team will be looking to build off of a 5-5 season last year.

Rugby day in Saskatchewan will be held in Warman on May 25 and will feature a number of men’s and women’s rugby teams from Saskatoon and area.

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