TRURO, N.S. – Instead of preparing the CEC Cougars high school girls rugby team for their game against the Hants East Tigers on Thursday, coach Meghan MacEachern spent the afternoon consoling her athletes.
Upon receiving news that the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation had cancelled all high school rugby in the province, MacEachern and co-coach Dan Mosley met with players to provide support during an emotional time.
“It was devastating to see their reactions and to hear some of their comments about what this sport has meant to them, and for them to come to the realization this opportunity was taken away was really devastating,” said MacEachern.
The board of governors for the NSSAF sent a memo to all high school principals on May 2 informing them of their decision to cut high school rugby.
“Please be advised that the Board of Governors of the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation, at their regularly scheduled spring meeting, has removed rugby from the NSSAF sports calendar. All rugby play within the NSSAF shall cease, effective May 2, 2019,” the memo stated.
“After a thorough review of incident report data provided by the School Insurance Program, the Board has decided to take this action. Student safety remains the top priority of the Federation.”
MacEachern has been involved in coaching CEC rugby for the past 10 years. She has witnessed first-hand the development of the girls’ game and what it means to students to be part of a team, making the NSSAF’s decision even more disappointing.
“I’ve been able to see a full decade of growth and progression in the sport, and to see it all halted with the flick of a wrist is really frustrating.”
MacEachern is also vice-president of the Truro Rugby Club. She said all clubs in the province, with the support of Rugby Nova Scotia and Rugby Canada, will do whatever it takes to provide high school players with an opportunity to continue playing.
“We’re lucky that so many of the clubs are involved with the local high school teams … so that’s definitely given us a soft place to land; everyone’s coming together to say, ‘we don’t know what it will look like yet, but at some point we’re going to have rugby happening for these kids, hopefully very soon.”’
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A rally of support for high school rugby will be held at the Farnham Mill Rugby Park – home of the Truro Saints – on Sunday. The Nova Scotia senior women’s team will meet New Brunswick at 1:30 p.m., followed by a men’s game between the neighbouring provinces at 3:30 p.m.
Rugby Nova Scotia is asking rugby players from throughout the province to wear their jerseys and make the trip to Truro in a show of solidarity.
“They’ll be a lot of people there hopefully all celebrating what our sport is and hopefully getting the message across that we are not okay with this decision and we want rugby back,” said MacEachern.
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