Nick Warnock (right) hauls down a Merchant Taylors’ School player Tuesday at the Ottoman Drive rugby fields.

Nick Warnock (right) hauls down a Merchant Taylors’ School player Tuesday at the Ottoman Drive rugby fields.

Rugby tour ignites fire within youth program

A whirlwind rugby tour of Williams Lake wrapped up Thursday morning for 44 English high school players.

A whirlwind rugby tour of Williams Lake wrapped up Thursday morning for 44 English high school players.

Merchants Taylor’s School, located in Crosby, England — just north of Liverpool — visited for a pair of friendlies with members of the Lake City Falcons and the Williams Lake Junior Rustlers. They also had an opportunity to learn about the community during their four-day stay.

“Our rugby community was able to exercise an opportunity to grow our game, grow our awareness and make some new friends and colleagues in the broad international rugby community,” said Rodger Stewart, Williams Lake Rustlers member, coach and one of the tour organizers.

On Tuesday they visited Mt. Polley Mine, then on Wednesday toured to Farwell Canyon and had some fun at Bell-E-Acres.

“I was proud to announce Canada won the golfing event, and also the go-karting,” Stewart joked, adding getting lakecity rugby players the chance to play against that calibre of team can only lead to good things.

“Whenever our lads play against a team of that skill level and experience they get an opportunity to understand what the game can be and what they can aspire to. It gives them an early sense of what it is they would see if they moved on to the higher echelons of rugby in Canada.”

Jason Ryll, who co-coaches the Falcons and Junior Rustlers with Todd Pritchard, said it was a great learning experience for his players.

“Their skill level is unmatched compared to our high school program,” Ryll said. “These guys have been playing for six, seven years together as a team and that’s going to bring with it its own advantages. If we had the opportunnity to play together over six years I think we’d be near that level. They played simple, clean rugby and it was just great to play against.”

Rugby teams wanting to travel and play in Williams Lake from abroad isn’t something new, however. Stewart said each year, through the Williams Lake Rustlers Rugby Football Club, multiple teams contact the association querying about visiting Williams Lake.

Ryll said it’s great exposure for the community and added it’s an example of possible future opportunities to tap in to.

“I see it as a long term opportunity, perhaps, to grow rugby in the Interior and an opportunity for us to possibly capitalize on it,” he said.

“I’d like to see us build on our rugby reputation and develop some kind of rugby academy or training facility of some kind where we could host and facilitate players and teams from other places and not have to burden the community — some kind of facility where players could come and stay, and that goes toward being able to build the skills of our own local players.”

While here the 44 Merchant Taylors’ School athletes billeted with local players’ families.

“I have to say we have a deep appreciation for those in the community that offered their households to billet,” Stewart said. “We had a lot of positive comments about the lads in the home environment and in the broad community.”

The visit, however, has left local players wanting to do something similar of their own. Prior to arriving in Williams Lake Merchant Taylors’ School played games in Calgary, and will now travel to Vancouver, before going to Seattle, and then Toronto, to wrap up their tour.

“This tour and hosting experience has lit a fire within our own players who want to do something similar,” Ryll said.

“It’s an achievable goal if you look at the amount of support the volunteers put in, and the dedication our lads are willing to do for fundraising. There’s definite interest and that’s going to be a goal for next year.”

For a slideshow with more photos of the friendly matches from Tuesday visit www.wltribune.com/sports.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Horsefly Community Hall will be the site of a mobile vaccine clinic March 19, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Six COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open in Cariboo Chilcotin

100 Mile, Alexis Creek, Big Lake, Horsefly, Williams Lake and Tatla Lake

A Williams Lake area family living on Knife Creek Road lost everything to a house fire on Wednesday, March 3. (Photo submitted)
House fire destroys rural family home south of Williams Lake

The Macdonalds built their home on Knife Creek Road about 30 years ago

A special committee has been appointed to look at reforming B.C.’s police act and is inviting the public to make submissions until April 30, 2021. (Black Press media file)
Public input sought for B.C.’s police act review

Submissions will be accepted until April 30

A new daycare in Tl’etinqox (Anaham) will be located across the road from the Datsan Chugh building. (Tl’etinqox Government Facebook photo)
Daycare approved to be built at Tl’etinqox First Nation

“We’re excited,” said Chief Joe Alphonse

International Women’s Day is March 8. (Internationalwomensday.com)
International Women’s Day 2021: #choosetochallenge

International Women’s Day is marked annually on March 8

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

(Black Press Media files)
Hosts charged, attendees facing COVID fines after Vancouver police bust party at condo

Police had previously received 10 complains about that condo

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. A joint federal and B.C. government housing program announced today aims to help people living in up to 25,000 vulnerable households pay their rent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Federal, B.C. governments announce $517-million rent aid program to help vulnerable

Benefits for those not eligible for B.C.’s Rental Assistance Program or Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters

(BC SPCA)
Is it safe to give your dog some peanut butter? Not always, BC SPCA warns

Some commercial peanut butter ingredients can be harmful to dogs

Health Minister Adrian Dix, front, B.C. Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrive for a news conference about the provincial response to the coronavirus, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, March 6, 2020. Pandemic emergency measures have been in place for almost a year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. officials plead for patience as 1.7 million COVID-19 calls flood in

Vaccine registration for 90-plus seniors opened Monday

Most Read