In a year full of firsts, seven Houston rugby players will be flying down and landing tackles at the BC Summer Games in Surrey.
This year’s Games mark the first time the northwest has fielded a rugby team, says zone rep Cobus Jonker.
“The biggest response we got was from Houston and Smithers,” Jonker said, noting that the northwest zone stretches from Vanderhoof to Prince Rupert but the other five players all come from Smithers.
Even head coach Ben Harris arrived just in time for Surrey, having moves from New Zealand to Smithers just three months ago to take a job as a civil technologist.
I think it’s going to be a high-level of rugby down there, so the girls will have to step it up,” he said, noting how much more often Lower Mainland teams get to play.
One of the Wolves’ big challenges will be communicating on the field, Harris said.
Until now, most of the Smithers and Houston contingents have only played as rivals.
Harris said they’ll mix the two sides during practice, and run lots of team-building exercises to get a good flow going.
Running an organized side, not brute strength, is the way to win, he said.
Raised on a farm in the New Zealand province of Hawkes Bay, Harris said he grew up with the sport all around him.
“I’ve had a rugby ball in my hand since I was born,” he said.
Harris started playing at age four, and played at the national level until an injury forced him to slow down.
The Wolves will play seven aside at the Games, which run from July 19 to 22.
Houston will be represented by Jamie Beck, Melissa Dawson, Taylor Hladon, Delainy Larocque, Michaelle Margerm, and Kelsey McEwen.