Ballenas Whalers Scotty Williams tries to get past a Carihi Tyees players during their rugby sevens play day at Ballenas field. — Michael Briones photo

Rugby Whalers in sevens heaven

Season opens for Parksville side with ‘playday’ against Armada and Carihi

Rugby season is here.

The Ballenas Whalers senior boys rugby sevens team hosted a ‘playday’ on Wednesday, that saw them go against the Alberni Armada and Carihi Tyees of Campbell River.

The excitement and enthusiasm over the game was evident as students, teachers and parents came out to watch the Whalers in action.

Because of the high interest in rugby sevens, the Whalers formed two teams that took on the visiting Armada and Tyees, who are actually returning to the game after not being able to form a team in the last five years.

While Ballenas coach, and strong advocate of rugby sevens, Kevin McMillen is pleased to have a good turnout this season, he would have loved to form a junior team as well.

“We have mostly senior players in the team and I think around four Grade 10s,” said McMillen. “Most of them are football players and also a lot of international students.”

For the football players, playing rugby is a big adjustment. On certain occasions, they tend to forget that they can’t make forward passes and that the stoppages in rugby are not as frequent like in football.

Grade 12 Scotty Williams, a big fan of the sevens game, said they’re still learning the game.

“The biggest challenge for our team is we have a lot of international students and new first-year players and we don’t know what we’re doing so we’re trying to give them as much time in the field and get them a lot of playing time so we’ll get better as a team.”

Williams, who also played for the Whalers football team, said they needed to approach the sevens game with a different mindset.

“Both games carry the same aspects, lots of tacking but the big difference is there’s no blocking in rugby and there’s a lot of one-on-one situations. Make your guy miss and you’re gone. You can’t get beat on defence.”

There is still no established rugby sevens league in the North Island but Williams said they’re looking at heading to the provincials in April.

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