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Pirates host Winnipeg team for weekend of rugby

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It was a busy three days on the rugby pitch at the Vermillion Park Sportsplex, this past weekend.
The two Parkland Pirates U13 rugby teams hosted the Hastings Middle School rugby team for a weekend of rugby.
The weekend began Friday with a flag rugby game, followed by a second flag rugby game, Saturday morning.
After an afternoon of swimming at the Kinsmen Aquatic Centre, the teams returned to the pitch for a clinic conducted by Hastings coach Chris Chapman, followed by a game of tackle rugby. The day ended with a barbecue for all three teams.
The weekend ended with another tackle rugby game, Sunday morning.
Pirates coach Aaron Minor said the Winnipeg team had not yet played tackle rugby, so the first two games consisted of flag rugby.
“Saturday, we progressed into a little more than flag. It was just an initial contact game. So you got tackled, you went down and then you were allowed to just pick up and move the ball. So tackle with a little bit of a pause so people could pick up the ball. Safe play,” he added.
Minor felt the weekend was a success. The contingent from Winnipeg, he said, was great and had favourable comments regarding the facilities and hospitality shown by Dauphin.
“We’ve been doing team lunches with the team from Winnipeg. We went for a team swim with team Winnipeg. It’s what rugby is all about and that camaraderie, friendship, making new friends,” Minor said.
Winnipeg had such a good time in Dauphin, they want to make the weekend an annual event. With that in mind, Minor hopes to include more age groups in the years to come.
The youth rugby program runs in the fall and had a successful first year in 2017, with about 80 players registered.
“We could definitely expand on this. We didn’t think there would be this much interest this early in the year. So it’s been fantastic,” Minor said.
The weekend of rugby ends the spring session and Minor hopes the program will continue to grow when it continues in the fall, noting there were more children registered in Dauphin than Brandon, Souris and Minnedosa combined.
“Dauphin, in its inaugural season, just came out with huge numbers and we hope to grow on that even more,” he said.
The success of the Pirates program is witnessed by a group of five players who will be playing with the Westman Rush regional team at the Man Sask Regionals in Regina, July 7 and 8.
Following the final game against Winnipeg, Sunday, Matthew Zurba, William Minor, Joseph Lopez, Ethan Everett and Austin Komarniski left for Brandon to practice with the Rush.
“We’re already playing on regional teams. We’re already being seen and noticed. So it’s just amazing considering we’re only in our second season,” Minor said.
With that kind of early success, Minor hopes the youth program can grow under the leadership of people such as Gerald Lopez and Erroll Karlson.
“Everybody is out here early, setting up pilons. Even though the coaches are here early setting things up, the kids are showing up early. So now we’re here even earlier. It’s just amazing how much excitement we’ve created over this,” he said.
Chapman said the host team was “phenomenal” and the rugby was great.
“I’m really enjoying Dauphin. The kids will have a memory, for sure,” he said.
Chapman served as the youth development officer for Rugby Manitoba and thought it would be a good idea to bring some young players to Dauphin to get some experience and support the youth program here.
“So I think it’s really important that we share this and come out here and do these kinds of things,” he said.
Chapman would like to come back again next year and hopes to work out the details at a later date.
“Everything has been top notch. The facilities are beautiful, the swimming pool was awesome, the pitch here has been great. The hotel was fabulous. Everything was really, really great,” he said.

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER
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