• Nick Zacharias

Westwood Wildcats clawing up the rugby ranks


PHOTO COURTESY JANINE HORROCKS

The girls of Westwood Midget rugby beam with pride along with their coaches as they hold up the GMAA Champions banner on May 4.

Spring is here and youth sports are in a period of transition from winter to summer action. It’s time to take a breath for many as some seasons wrap up and others are poised to begin: minor hockey’s big finals are done and they’ve wound down for summer, as have skiers and boarders and others who shine in the winter. Football is in spring training mode, while outdoor tennis, soccer, baseball, Association of Lakeshore Pools (ALPS) swimming and many more are raring to get their 2018 seasons started - so stay tuned.

But what’s happening out there right now? High school rugby for one, and the Westwood Wildcats are having a (literally) banner year so far. Part of the Greater Montreal Athletic Association (GMAA), which spans 53 English secondary schools including Westwood Junior and Senior High Schools in St. Lazare and Hudson respectively, they participate in an intensive rugby season of just five to six weeks each April and May.

This year is proving to be another good one for the Wildcats. The Midget girls in fact are building something of a dynasty, coming home with the champions’ banner from last week’s GMAA Girls Rugby 7’s tournament for the third year running.

“They’ve really built something here,” says Westwood Senior Rugby Program Director Gareth Williams, who has been working on boosting Westwood’s rugby program for the past eight years.

The girls, under Coach Paul Gallagher, fought through four tough games to come out on top at Concordia field May 4. They credit their wins to persistent hard work from all the players, and a final game MVP performance by Lauren Tetrault.

PHOTO COURTESY JANINE HORROCKS

The boys of Westwood Wildcats rugby make for an impressive group as they pose together at the GMAA boys 7’s tournament.

The boys of Westwood, not content to sit in the girls’ shadows, put in a strong performance a week later on the same tournament field. The Juvenile team of 16 to 18-year-olds, under the leadership of Coach Toni Rikley, came first in their division after the round robin, losing only at the semi-finals. The 14 to 16-year-old Midget boys were eliminated in the round robin but put forth a strong effort, and the young Bantam boys came home proudly waving another GMAA champions’ banner for their school.

The Bantam boys had to work hard for the title, playing five rounds of gruelling seven-a-side rugby in a single day. MVP for the final was Lucas Brugaletta.

For the season overall, things are looking good as well. Their successes at the 7’s tournaments make for a good snapshot of their performances so far in regular season 10’s and 15’s (for those not in the know, rugby is played in “sevens” which features intense running and shorter halves for teams with just seven players per side, as well as “tens” and more traditional “fifteens” where larger teams compete with fifteen players per side and much longer halves).

The Juvenile girls have a record of 2-2 and are hungry for more wins. The Juvenile boys have a strong standing with a record of 3-0 this season, and the Bantam boys, now at 1-1 for the season, are hoping their great play at the tournament will continue as they square off against Lindsay Place High School today at 3pm at Westwood Senior campus in Hudson.

Here’s hoping for more success for the girls and boys of Westwood Wildcats rugby!

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