KAMLOOPS — If the Canada West University Athletics Association membership votes to approve women’s rugby sevens as a varsity sport, the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack will not be a part of it.
Thompson Rivers Athletics Director Curtis Atkinson says after being involved in the pilot project for the last two years, the WolfPack will not continue. “ We had a chance to review the last two seasons with head coach Derek Pue and assistant coach Jesse Olynyk and made the difficult decision not to continue at this point regardless of what the final decision on the sport will be in Canada West.”
Atkinson said it was a tough go for the program, which was starting from scratch to compete against established schools who also had rugby 15 programs. “It was very difficult right from the start. I respect and admire both Derek and Jesse for guiding us through the project. They were absolutely the right people to take this on and lead us through it. They are very well thought of in the rugby community. It is very difficult to start from scratch when you are going up against schools that have established rugby 15s programs from which they can pull their top sevens athletes. I am very appreciative of the entire coaching staff and all of the student-athletes who showed tremendous commitment to TRU and the program.”
Coach Pue stated, “Obviously we are disappointed that the last two years didn’t pan out like we planned. I understand this was not an easy decision. The core girls showed they had the work ethic and commitment to build a culture we wanted but in the end we need to build a deeper foundation. “
With Rugby Canada and BC Rugby making a concerted effort to promote the sport at the grass roots level, Atkinson didn’t rule out revisiting having a women’s rugby seven’s program in the future but not anytime soon. “I wouldn’t close the door on it forever. The seven’s game is exploding. There is a lot of excitement around it. We just thought we didn’t have the established base to go forward with it and to be competitive right now.”
Adds Pue, “In the future, if a dedicated group came forward to establish a club at TRU and showed they could build a foundation that would be a good start for another varsity program. Who knows what could transpire in the future. The coaching staff would like to thank Curtis Atkinson, Matt Milovick (TRU Vice President of Finance) and the WolfPack support staff for their support in being a part of this pilot project.
After competing in two events last year, the WolfPack were only able to field a team for one of the three tournaments they were slated to play in 2019.
The future of women’s rugby sevens in Canada West will likely be determined at the next league meeting in May.
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