The Terrace Northmen rugby team is set to slam into another season with six new recruits and a field under construction.
Work started last fall at the Northwest Community College rugby field, and contractors aim to finish it this spring — complete with new rugby posts and sprinkler system, as well as a levelled field and re-seeded grass. The estimated $80,000 field is funded with $30,000 from Northern Development Initiative Trust, $30,000 locally fundraised by the Northmen, and roughly $20,000 in in-kind donations from Bear Creek Contracting.
“It won’t be ready this year, but next year we should have a beautiful new field dedicated to rugby use,” said Evan van Dyk, the team’s vice-president. “It should be lush and ready to roll for 2019 spring.”
Practices are running at Caledonia Secondary School for the season, and the Northmen have recruited more than six new players for the team.
“We’ve got a lot of new players,” said van Dyk. “We did a big push for new rookies… the team wanted to get some fresh blood in. We’ve been pretty successful the last number of years winning, and we just want to make sure this club is going to be lasting,” he said.
Most of those rookies are hitting up the Edmonton Rugbyfest with a squad of Northmen May 18-20, playing 7s and 10s rugby.
“We’re expecting just to go and have some fun,” said van Dyk. “It’s really about getting the rookies and new players introduced, keeping them interested in the sport.”
Adrian Babcock, Gavin Colongard, MJ Wraight, Jordan Wilson, Liam Buchanan and Nicholas Etler have committed to the team, and van Dyk says a few others are also trying it out.
Besides Rugbyfest, no big tournaments are scheduled this season so far, with only regular games to be played against the Prince Rupert Seamen, Williams Lake Rustlers and Prince George Gnats in the Central Interior Rugby Union.
On another front, the Caledonia rugby team has also launched into their season, with games in Williams Lake a few weeks ago. Coach Phil Blundon says they have about 22 players and will compete in a tournament in Prince Rupert May 16-21, and at Seafest in June.