The West Coast Wire
Bringing rugby back to Corner Brook
Community’s Rugby Day slated for June 10, provides chance to try the sport
There’s a whole new game in town.
The sport of rugby has a small but dedicated and growing following in Corner Brook. Now, those rugby aficionados want to share the sport they love with everyone else.
On Saturday, June 10, the Corner Brook Regional High Soccer Field will host Rugby Day in Corner Brook. The event will provide everybody the opportunity to try playing rugby for the first time. All ages and skill levels are welcome for the day of events, which will include noncontact flag rugby, giveaways and prizes, rugby lessons by licensed coaches and a couple games to conclude the day.
“We want to see anybody and everybody out,” Richard Tingskou, vice-president of the West Coast Wanders Rugby Club, who is hosting the event, tells West Coast Wire. “It’s a safe non-contact environment where it’s all about learning about rugby, how to play and just getting an introduction to the game itself.”
Rugby Day was funded through the government of Canada’s Participaction Community Challenge. Registration is free. The day will start with lessons for ages five to 14 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. followed by lessons for ages 15 and older from noon to 2 p.m.
Then starting at 3 p.m. the Newfoundland and Labrador Rugby Union will host two games: a game Women’s 7s followed by a game of Senior Men’s 15s.
According to Tingskou, the senior men’s game, which will be between the West Coast Wanders Selects and the Swilers Rugby Club touring side, will be the first rugby union game held in Corner Brook since the late 1980s. Wanderers president Steve Best played in that last game and will be playing in this one.
“It’s full circle for us,” he says.
Best was in high school in the 1980s when then chemistry teacher Gary Caines started a rugby club in Corner Brook. When Caines moved back to New Brunswick, Roy Lewis, who moved to Corner Brook from Wales, picked it up where Caines left off.
Best played on the high school team during this time in the mid to late 1980s. He says there was even a Western NL team at the 1988 Newfoundland and Labrador Summer Games.
But after he and his cohort graduated high school, rugby died away in Corner Brook.
After moving to St. John’s, Best continued to play rugby competitively until he was 35.
In Corner Brook, however, it never made any kind of return until 2017 when a touch rugby group was started. Participation grew to a point that they started the club in 2019.
However, Tingskou says the momentum was interrupted by the pandemic.
Rugby Day, then, is a great opportunity to recapture that momentum and expose Corner Brook to the sport’s many virtues.
“It’s just a pile of fun,” says Tingskou. “Secondly, it’s very tactical. There’s a lot of thought that goes into the game. It’s very positional and the athleticism, you have to be a really well-rounded athlete to excel in the sport. It really fosters a diverse skillset.”
Tinksgou and Best both feel there’s something for everyone in the sport.
“It’s the type of sport where everybody supports each other,” says Best. “The nice thing about rugby is it’s 15 positions on the field and really there’s space for everyone. It’s very inclusive that way.”
While you can register for Rugby Day in Corner Brook on the day of the event, Best recommends people preregister through a couple documents accessible on the Rugby Day in Corner Brook Facebook page. He says this will make it easier for them to track their numbers.