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High school rugby re-instated (again)

A group of players with the boys and girls rugby teams at NNEC practice a scrum drill on May 6.
A group of players with the boys and girls rugby teams at NNEC practice a scrum drill on May 6. - Kevin Adshade

NEW GLASGOW, N.S.

Maybe it was the 28,000-plus signatures in an online petition.

Maybe it was the high school rugby players who were determined to have their voices heard in the street.

Perhaps it was due to incidents such as what took place at North Nova Education Centre on Tuesday morning, when about 20 parents, along with players from the girls and boys teams, crowded into an office at NNEC, demanding answers from principal Ann Findlay.

Either way, rugby is back.

“I thought we were done. It would have been a terrible way to end,” said Victoria Straub, who has played rugby since Grade 9, and has broken a couple of fingers playing the sport.

“We were not informed about a lot of stuff, and it was kind of scary at first. It’s pretty good to be back on the field. We're just happy to be back playing like we should be.”

In a joint statement released May 7 from the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation and the Department of Education, the groups announced that Rugby Nova Scotia will manage the rest of the season – including playoffs and provincials – while receiving support from the NSSAF.

“Over the summer, NSSAF will work with government, Rugby Nova Scotia, medical experts and others on safety in sports,” the release stated.

“And furthermore, made the decision without appropriate consultation with school communities.”

Following a huge outcry after the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation abruptly cancelled the high school rugby season, education minister Zach Churchill ordered the season to resume the next day.

“In making the decision to abruptly end high school rugby, the NSSAF contravened the terms and conditions of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development in that it neglected to inform the department of its intent to communicate its decision on May 2,” Zach Churchill said in a release.

But by May 6, the immediate future of high school rugby in Nova Scotia was again unclear, as the NSSAF has passed on the responsibility to high school principals. The provincial Medical Officer of Health, Robert Strang, along with other respected physicians, expressed strong concerns about the decision.

There are more than 100 players in Pictou County playing high school rugby this spring, with boys and girls teams at NNEC and NRHS.

“I think it was terrible, I really do,” aid NNEC Gryphons player Hayden Ross said, of the way the entire situation was handled.

“No one knew the actual truth the whole time. It was up and down and it could have went a lot smoother.”

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