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Local Athletes Shine At Rugby Development Camp


Five local rugby players were recently in Moose Jaw, Sask., to attend Rugby Canada’s U18 men’s development camp.

Matthew Zurba, Oliver Dandeneau, Quinnton Shwaluk, William Miner and Joseph Lopez joined 25 other players from across the prairie provinces to put their talent on display for national team coaches, Aug. 21 and 22.

Aaron Miner, co-ordinator of the Parkland Pirates youth rugby program, said coaches keyed in on some of the leaders and stronger athletes from the Parkland throughout the season.

“And we asked several of them and those were the five that wanted to go and give it a try,” he added. According to Miner, the feedback from spectators and coaches was positive.

“They did not look out of place at all,” he said. “They were some of the younger kids, of course. They’re 15 and 16 year olds playing with 17 and 18 year olds, so you would think they would be a step behind. But in no case were they. As a matter of fact, some of them were at the top of the events they were participating in.”

Players from this camp will be invited to the national team’s final tryout camp in Vancouver in December. Given the Pirates program began in 2017, to have five players already on the national team radar is unexpected.

“We only started this program over the last five years. And to bring it to this caliber already is just amazing,” Miner said. “We have some athletes that absolutely fell in love with the game and train for it year round, whether it be running, weight lifting, throwing a ball around, kicking a ball around. That same drive that you see in hockey players around here. Those keeners that want to excel in hockey are constantly doing something to better themselves. And these five and a few more are doing the same thing for rugby and it’s great to see.”

Doug Zywina