Truro natives set to debut in inaugural Atlantic rugby league

Ryan Cooke
Published on May 30, 2014
Brett Johnson, left, Robert Foley and Kaleb Haque were at Saints Field on Friday night, spending some time together before their season opener on Saturday. The Truro trio is a part of the Nova Scotia Keltics in the new Atlantic Provincial Senior Rugby League, which will kick off its inaugural season with a match between the Keltics and the New Brunswick Black Spruce in Fredericton.
Ryan Cooke/Truro Daily News

BIBLE HILL – Speed, aggression, competition and good friends – what more could you ask for?

A trio of friends from the Truro area will be heading to Fredericton today to join the Nova Scotia Keltics for the inaugural match in the Atlantic Senior Provincial Rugby League.

Brett Johnson, Kaleb Haque and Robert Foley make jokes and toss around a ball on Friday night at Saints Field, gearing up for their senior league debut.

The league consists of three teams – the Nova Scotia Keltics, the New Brunswick Black Spruce and the Newfoundland Rock. The idea is to create exposure for players to get their names in the running for the Atlantic Rock, who represent the region nationally.

“It’s a little bit of a change, but it’s good to get out there and play with better players,” Haque said.

“It’s going to be a quicker pace, a little bit more intense,” Foley added.

Intensity is what brought the boys to the game. Each started playing in high school, when they were first introduced to the game. It wasn’t long before they were roped in.

“I fell in love with it right away,” Haque said. “I played football my whole life, but once I started playing rugby, I knew it was all rugby from then on.”

“A lot of people are kind of timid when they first get out there,” Johnson said. “But it’s not long before you realize you love the game.”

The league is a new concept developed between the provincial bodies from Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The Keltics team will be coached by Jack Hanratty, an Irishman who is making waves on the provincial rugby scene.

“Where he’s from, rugby is like hockey,” Johnson said. “It’s what they eat and breathe. And he’s done a great job of bringing that attitude to Nova Scotia.”

Since taking up his post as the provincial senior coach, Hanratty has been involved with developing numerous camps across the province, targeting all ages. His goal is simple – to grow rugby to the point of hockey or football.

“Jack has done wonders this year,” Haque said. “He’s getting more and more people involved and it’s going to be a great thing for the sport.”

“It’s important to get it into people’s heads,” Foley said. “From there it will grow leaps and bounds on its own.

Next Saturday will feature a rematch between the Keltics and the Black Spruce on Saints Field.

It will be an opportunity for the three local guys to show off in front of their home fans and play the game they love. 

“It’s a great sport,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be an honour to play it at such a high level, and with the best friends I’ve made through the game.”