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A Milestone Year for Rugby 7’s at the TDSB

A Milestone Year for Rugby 7’s at the TDSB

Friday, November 04, 2016
Categories: Great Things, Happenings @ TDSB, School Web Stories

This was the year that many Rugby enthusiasts were looking forward to. At the international level, Rugby 7’s was named as a sport to be included at the Olympics making it the first time that Rugby 7’s was played in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil. Our Canadian women made us all very proud by bringing home the bronze medal, winning the respect and admiration of a nation, and creating many new fans.

At the TDSB level, let’s back up to 2004 when a fledgling Rugby 7’s tournament is held at Don Mills CI with only four schools, a varsity boys’ and girls’ division with eight squads in total. The goals were simple; provide young athletes the opportunity to express themselves in a dynamic sport, grow the game, improve the rugby skills of TDSB teams and help those diamonds in the rough, who may one day be good enough to make the national program, Rugby Canada.  Those goals were announced to coaches at the pre-tournament meeting leading up to the big day.

That first tournament was a great success, but it was just the beginning. Since then the structure has grown expediently across the TDSB and has achieved approved sport status as a fully sanctioned sport in the TDSB. TDSB participation numbers continued to increase each year. 2016 has been the biggest year yet.  The TDSSAA Rugby 7’s 2016 structure included eight round robin tournaments at different school sites and a finals play-off day tournament for five divisions, 152 round robin games, 33 play-off games, in addition to more than 180 friendly matches, all of which led up to the finals day. The 10 finalists represented eight different schools to consist of five 2016 TDSSAA Rugby 7’s Champions. They are:

Bantam Boys; Victoria Park CI
Junior Girls; Sir Oliver Mowat CI
Junior Boys; Forest Hill CI,
Senior Girls; Sir Oliver Mowat CI
Senior Boys, David and Mary Thomson CI

In total, 1302 athletes participated. 819 boys and 483 girls represented more than 30 TDSB schools. A new bantam girls division has been announced for next year and it continues to grow. The season ended with a record number of TDSB schools entered in the Rugby Ontario Provincial Championships. Congratulations are extended out to the champions:

Sir Oliver Mowat CI who are the Junior Girls Finalist;
Forest Hill CI who are the Junior Boys’ Provincial Champions; and
Sir Oliver Mowat CI for the title of Senior Girls’ Provincial Champions.

Co-Lead Convenor, Alf Scharlach of Leaside, one of eight members of the leadership group, summed it up best by saying, “Clearly, we are doing something right!” The athletes themselves reveal the accomplishment of one of the goals: “It's an incredible feeling seeing us all work together and fight to reach these goals. Even if we don't win every single game, we're never disappointed because we know we left everything out on the field“, says grade 12 student and Leaside’s senior girls player Danika Taylor.

“The incredible participation numbers have put the TDSB on the map in the rugby world by being one of the largest high school Rugby 7’s structure that exists worldwide”, says Sandro Fiorino, Assistant Coach, National Women's Program, Rugby Canada. Organizations like TIRF (Toronto Inner-City Rugby Foundation), Rugby Ontario and Rugby Canada have taken note and continue to provide incredible support for our tournaments. These tournaments provide them an excellent opportunity to connect with the grassroots beginning of the sport pathway. It also allows for a chance to scout for the next national star.

So how are they doing in keeping with one of original goals (to help those diamonds in the rough, who may one day be good enough to make Rugby Canada, the National program) that the convenors still repeat at each and every meeting? Considering the following list of former TDSB Rugby athletes, now working with the national program at Rugby Canada, Don Mills CI Teacher and Co-Lead Convenor of TDSSAA Rugby 7’s Dan Kunanec seems to think very well as he lists those players who have moved  and include: Liam Underwood from Malvern CI, Lucas Hammond, Oakwood CI; Riley DiNardo, Newtonbrook SS, Kyle Lagasca, Don Mills CI, Charity Williams (Olympic Bronze Medallist), Central Technical Academy and Ghislaine Landry (Olympic Bronze Medallist), Lawrence Park CI.  

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