Ruggers stay warm at annual Snow Sevens tournament

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Winter is tough for any athlete if there’s no sports to be played, but Western’s men’s rugby team stayed in the swing of things Saturday with its Snow Sevens tournament.

The annual tournament, in which team members recruit friends for a day of pickup rugby in the snow, is an opportunity for team bonding during the offseason.

“Sevens is slightly different than the rugby we play here at Western,” said rookie fullback and tournament organizer David Jacks. “There are only seven guys on each side of the field, as opposed to the 15 we’d be playing at the varsity level.

“We all just get together on an afternoon, have a good time, promote the team and get together with our buddies.”

Fullback Josh Campbell emphasized rugby experience isn’t required.

“You’re allowed a maximum of three varsity players per team, so if you’re on the varsity team, you tend to just get a bunch of your buddies,” Campbell said. “Anybody who’s interested in playing " it doesn’t matter who they are; they don’t even have to know what rugby is " they just come out and play.”

“It’s usually a bunch of people’s friends,” said prop Mike Wade. “This year, we actually put up a Facebook group, so it opened it up to a wider variety of people, and random people could join and set up their own teams.”

Flyhalf Cory D. Appleton said the tournament also promotes Western’s rugby team.

“This event is designed to get a bunch of people out, and to get everybody interested in rugby,” Appleton said. “Basically, we just want to get some exposure.

“Rugby isn’t as big in Canada as it is in other countries and around other schools, but we just want everyone to come out, have a good time, learn the game and have fun.”

Several team members emphasized that while the tournament is competitive, it’s mostly geared to ensure all the players enjoy themselves.

“It’s not too competitive off the field, but everybody gets into it,” Wade said. “It’s a pretty competitive atmosphere, but we’re all friends.”

Jacks said there’s some high-level rugby played at the tournament.

“It isn’t about winning,” he said. “But there are prizes involved, so usually when it come down to it, the two top teams will emerge and have a really good final.”

Bitter cold was a factor Saturday; the temperature dropped as low as -10 C, and felt like -20 C with the windchill.

“We like the cold,” Jacks said. “We had a few games this year where we had that snow early on in the year, and we had to play through that for some of our playoff games, so this isn’t too bad.

“We get the chance to get bundled up.”

Campbell agreed.

“I can’t feel my toes right now,” he joked. “But once you get playing, you don’t tend to notice it at all.”

According to the players, the cold is worth bearing for the opportunity to play.

“It’s really hard [to make it through the winter without rugby],” Campbell said.

“It’s definitely tough,” Appleton said. “Over in British Columbia, they get to play all year round, but here in Ontario we have snow, so we do the best we can and play in what we have.”

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