High school rugby season resumes

Sports

NEW GLASGOW – Rugby is back at two local high schools.

The host North Nova Gryphons defeated the Dr. J.H. Gillis Royals on Wednesday in their regularly-scheduled girls’ rugby game at the NNEC field.

The Northumberland Nighthawks have moved their home games against their male and female counterparts from Cobequid Education Centre to Thursday at the NRHS pitch in Alma.

Other regularly-scheduled games include North Nova at Northumberland in boys’ and girls’ games on May 14 and North Nova girls visiting Antigonish on May 16.

The Gryphon boys and girls are keeping their weekend date at a tournament in Summerside, P.E.I. before resuming their regular season.

It is not yet known when or if North Nova will be able to determine new dates for its boys’ and girls’ home games against Northumberland and CEC.

The games follow reinstatement of high school rugby after Rugby Nova Scotia agreed to manage the rest of the rugby season with the support of the Nova School Athletic Federation.

This includes regional semifinal playoff games on May 21 featuring the first-place team hosting the fourth-place team and the second-place team hosting the third-place team. The winners are scheduled to meet for regional championships on May 23 with the higher-seeded team hosting.

Provincial Division I championships are scheduled to be played on May 31 and June 1 in the Western Region.

The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and the NSSAF announced the arrangement with Rugby N.S. in a joint statement released following a meeting on Tuesday.

It said the two groups “worked together on a plan for student-athletes to keep playing rugby safely.”

“Over the summer, NSSAF will work with government, Rugby Nova Scotia, medical experts and others on safety in sports,” the statement continued. “NSSAF and the department will also work together to review the memorandum of agreement over the summer on how it can work best for student-athletes and everyone else involved.”

The resolution follows a turbulent week for high school rugby after the federation announced without prior notice last Thursday that it was cancelling the remainder of the season due to safety and insurance concerns.   

Education Minister Zach Churchill ordered high school rugby’s reinstatement. The federation responded by leaving it to the discretion of participating school principals whether or not to allow rugby “like any non-NSSAF sport.”


Liz Francis of the host North Nova Gryphons receives the ball in stride during their female rugby victory on Wednesday against the Dr. J.H. Gillis Royals of Antigonish. (Goodwin photo)