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Photos: Tri-City high schools are embracing girls' rugby

Almost every high school in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody was represented at a unique jamboree competition today, April 4.

Inclusion is driving exponential growth in girls’ high school rugby says one of the sport’s proponents.

“We have always said that rugby gives a home for all shapes and sizes,” said Simon Quinto, the coach of the Gleneagle Talons that finished second in the girls 15s provincials last season.

“This gives them a real sense of belonging.”

The popularity of girls rugby was on full display Wednesday, April 3, as almost every school from the Tri-Cities, along with Maple Ridge Secondary, was represented at a unique jamboree competition at École Banting Middle School in Coquitlam that brought together full-size 15s squads and teams playing sevens for an afternoon of camaraderie and muddy knees.

The teams played 12 a side, a hybrid version of rugby that gave the larger squads a taste of the speed and agility required for sevens and the smaller teams a chance to grind out the tactics and scrum downs of the sport’s traditional 15s.

Quinto said the advent of sevens rugby at the high school level has opened the sport to more schools that otherwise might have struggled to form teams for 15s.

The more wide-open style of play fostered by having fewer players on the pitch has also made it a more attractive option for athletes who might be leery of the hard hitting and tackling in 15s.

“We see many players come from another sport,” said Quinto, adding the increasing number of volunteers from the United Rugby club program in Coquitlam to help coach and teach the girls has also boosted its appeal.

This year, only Gleneagle and Dr. Charles Best will be fielding teams in 15s in Fraser North play.

They’ll also have teams playing sevens, along with Heritage Woods, Riverside, Port Moody and Terry Fox.

Quinto said that mix could change in the future, though, as more girls discover the sport.

On May 3, Gleneagle will be hosting at the Centennial Oval a special “Stadium Series” of rugby matches featuring top 15s sides from around the Lower Mainland.

The event kicks off at 2 p.m. when the Talons play W.J. Mouat.

At 3 p.m., Dr. Charles Best plays Grandview Heights and, at 4:30 p.m., the Riverside Rapids face Kitsilano.