This semester, the WolfPack will join teams from six other Canada West universities in the second year of the Western Canada Women’s Rugby Seven’s series pilot project. Last year, Canada West, with support from Rugby Canada and B2ten, launched the three-year rugby sevens pilot project in order to grow the game and retain student-athletes in Canada.
In addition to the ‘Pack, teams from UBC, UVic, UFV, Lethbridge, Calgary and Alberta will also be participating.
The program will be run as a club team and will be coached by Derek Pue, current coach of the Kamloops Rugby Club’s Raiders men’s team. Pue, who is also involved in the Thompson Okanagan 16U men’s and BC Rugby Interior Academy, believes the program will be a great first step for TRU athletes looking to get on the national team’s radar.
“Sevens rugby is an incredibly exciting sport that is dynamic and fast-paced. It’s taking off in North America because that fast paced action links well to the sporting market,” Pue said in a WolfPack press release. “Rugby Sevens debuted at the Rio Olympics and was incredibly popular.”
Rugby sevens, commonly known as sevens, is one of the most well-distributed variants of rugby and is played across the globe. While sevens is played under similar rules to normal rugby, teams are made up of seven players playing seven-minute halves, instead of the usual 15 players playing 40-minute halves.
Pue will be helped by two assistant coaches, Jesse Olynyk and Kaitlyn Cumming. Olynyk, the daughter of former TRU athletics director Ken Olynyk, will be the team’s skills coach and manager.
“Both Jesse and Kaitlin bring a wealth of knowledge about the game as well as an understanding of what it takes to be successful in women’s university rugby,” Pue said.
The ‘Pack will carry a roster of 14 and play in two of the three sanctioned tournaments next month. On February 10 and 11, the WolfPack will play at the University of the Fraser Valley, and on February 24 and 25 they will be at UVic.
“The Western Canada Women’s Rugby Sevens series is a wonderful opportunity to further showcase and develop the amazing talent we have in Canadian University sport,” said Curtis Atkinson, TRU’s new athletics director in the release. “ This series allows female athletes to pursue their sport at a high level with enhanced exposure to the national team.”
As it stands TRU has made a has made a one-season commitment to support the program, which will be reevaluated at the end of the season.
Those interested in trying out are encouraged to contact Jesse Olynyk at firstname.lastname@example.org.