Although Rugbyfest was cancelled due to the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation banning high school rugby, that didn’t stop student athletes from getting some practice in on the weekend.
The abrupt cancellation of high school rugby May 2 resulted in the cancellation of all games and tournaments across the province. On May 3, the provincial minister of education ordered NSSAF to reinstate the sport — but by then, it was too late to salvage the weekend games.
Many of the girls who would have been playing at Rugbyfest, which is hosted at Avon View High School in Windsor annually, converged on the pitch May 4 for some friendly matches, icebreaker sessions and to celebrate.
“We were very upset that it was over and now that it’s back, we can finally get back to what we love,” said Chloe Murray, with the Northeast Kings Education Centre Titans.
Murray has been playing rugby for two years.
“Rugby is a huge part of my life and I take a lot of my time and dedicate it to rugby. I love the sport and learning about it,” Murray said as girls were taking the field for a fun icebreaker session. “I’ve met so many great friends and I feel like I have such a big bond with all the people on my team.”
Girls from the Avon View Avalanche’s senior varsity and junior varsity teams, plus girls from the Northeast Kings Education Centre Titans, Central Kings Gators and West Kings Wolverines took part in the Saturday fun.
It was not school-sanctioned.
“I think school sports are very important and we can see that here, with teams practising and playing and working together, that it lasts a life time,” said Michelle Jodrey, Avon View’s team manager.
“This is just a celebration.”
Grade 12 Horton High School student Krya Campbell attended a protest outside the Halifax Convention Centre May 3, lending her voice to the growing number of people upset over the NSSAF decision.
“It was really shocking because it happened over the announcements at school and no one knew — even my coach didn’t know. Everyone was just kind of taken aback and really lost because it was something that connected all of us and was the reason that some kids go to school,” said Campbell.
She wanted to do something to let decision makers know how unhappy the young rugby players were. NSSAF was holding its annual luncheon to celebrate athletes that day.
“I felt like if we were all so upset, we had to take action to actually have change. I decided to go up and represent the girls’ team,” said Campbell, who travelled to Halifax with the boys rugby team.
“It was amazing, honestly. There were about 14 other teams there, about 200 students — mostly from the city but King’s-Edgehill was also there.”
She described the protest as ‘empowering’ and said that it felt like they were being listened to. When MLA Zach Churchill announced he was calling on the immediate reinstatement of high school rugby, her spirits soared.
“Even the education minister and the department didn’t know either so it was kind of shocking that everyone was blindsided. I’m happy that they decided to reinstate it so quickly.”
As of May 4, it is unknown when regular play will resume or if cancelled matches will be rescheduled.
- SPORTS CHAT: How important is high school rugby?
- Cape Breton students hold rally over suspension of high school rugby
- Follow the bouncing ball: Nova Scotia high school rugby games could go ahead Tuesday
- NSSAF defends rugby ban decision in memo to school principals
- Truro coach breathes sigh of relief after rugby is restored
- CEC coach says players were devastated by NSSAF’s decision to cut rugby
- Provincial minister calls upon NSSAF to reverse decision, reinstate high school rugby
- Truro Rugby Club president ‘shocked, disappointed’ with NSSAF's decision to cut rugby
- NSSAF pulls rugby mid-season, Avon View High School players devastated