Story by Jeff Gard/Total Sports Quinte
Rugby season is fast approaching for the Belleville Bulldogs, but it’s not too late to get in on the action.
In fact, there was a large turnout of youth giving the sport a try this past weekend during the Bulldogs’ Try Rugby Day event at Mary Anne Sills Park.
“We had over 100 participants from under-four to under-18, which is amazing and it was great weather so that was good, lots of volunteers out there – both high school volunteers and adults – to make the day run smoothly,” said Bulldogs director Jo Robinson. “I think it got a lot of interest in our programs and our registrations increased quite a bit over the weekend so that was awesome.”
Registration remains open for all of the Bulldogs programs, but signing up sooner than later is advised, especially as some get underway soon. The minor flag program for under-four to under-12, for instance, starts this Sunday, May 8 and runs for about seven weeks.
“That’s still open even though it starts this coming Sunday. We still have space,” Robinson remarked.
Bulldogs U12 and U14 teams started practice this week, but registrations will still be accepted as is the case for U16 and U18 teams that will head to the pitch in the next week or two.
Robinson noted that Bulldogs adult team, especially the men’s could use more players as well.
Following a couple of challenging seasons due to COVID restrictions, it’s not surprising the organization is needing to build its programs back up again.
“In 2020 we were able to run a flag rugby program in the fall and last year similar we did a flag rugby program in the fall and even some sevens contact rugby for the juniors,” Robinson said. “We’re looking forward to a more normal season this year, getting all squads going again.”
It’s encouraging to attract new players at the younger age groups.
“We used to just run the flag rugby program for I think grade 7 and 8’s and we’ve expanded and now we’ve got three year olds and four year olds out there and it’s amazing,” Robinson said. “If we can foster a love for the game at that young age, hopefully we’ve got them hooked for life.”
Flag rugby allows players to learn fundamentals of the game such as running, passing and catching without facing the physical element.
“Our U12 program we have the flag option and contact option so some of those flag players may look to upgrade and then join the contact team,” Robinson said. “There’s no pressure to, but the option is there to get into the full contact rugby if they so choose.”
Anyone wishing to register can do so at www.bulldogsrugby.com. You can also find more information there or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.