Prince Rupert Seamen member Andy Enns will be leading the next crop of the team’s star members by coaching the Charles Hays (CHSS) rugby squad this year.
Enns currently runs practice on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in preparation for their first zones meet in Burns Lake this weekend.
“We’ve been doing everything to get the lads game-ready so lots of passing drills, a lot of tackling drills and lots of learning how to recycle the ball and keep it moving from all circumstances,” Enns said last week.
A steady core of eight to 11 players reliably make it out to practice regularly, with a total of 17 boys taking part in the tune-ups.
“We’ve got some good depth on the team this year. We have good leadership, and we have three exchange students – one from France, one from Germany and one from the Netherlands,” explained the coach.
Tanner Pretulac, Liam Robertson and Branden Skaar lead the team this year in rugby sevens.
“They’re very gung-ho – very ready to play,” said Enns of his team.
And despite the school being unable to insure them, a few girls have made it out to the practices as well and are taking part in most of the drills, except tackling. They’ll be insured under BC Rugby.
“In essence, they’re freelance rugby players practicing with the boys to learn the game and gain experience. They do not take part in all the tackling drills but they are getting the full benefit of being able to practice with a team and then when they play, they will likely be playing with Smithers … the coach has already welcomed them to come play with them and they’ll be using their skills in that setting,” said Enns.
Girls’ rugby is run by BC Rugby and while there’s no formal sevens league in the Northwest, the girls are able to be guests on regular teams, something that’s a common occurrence in games in this zone.
So while the school team cannot insure the players, the girls will be able to take part in games with a Smithers team.
“We have basically one team from every city from here to Prince George, so there’s a team from Rupert, Terrace, Smithers, Houston and Vanderhoof – there’s a boys’ team in each of those places. Then the girls play – either there’s a full team or they’d be playing with a team that needs players,” explained Enns.
Houston Secondary School most recently made high school girls’ rugby provincial noise when they placed third in B.C. in AA Tier 2 finals back in May when the Northwest zone was added as a contending division.