Ladycats scramble for rugby season start SPORTS

U18 rugby for Québec and she is also part of the Ottawa Irish Rugby Club’s women’s squad. Coach Foster noted that at least half a dozen of this season’s Wildcats have also played for the Irish. First games of the season for the varsity girls will be during a home tournament that RDHS hosts on April 18. Regular league play begins April 30 when Rockland hosts Russell High School. Having a “big team” for a change also means a change in tactics. “It does mean a change in how you play,” Coach Lawford said. “More of a forward style rather than spinning the ball wide. You keep the ball nice and tight.” Instead of dodge-and-pass and being ready to intercept, the Wildcats junior boys now have to focus more on a charging game. “The plan is to give the big forwards the ball a little more than usual,” Lawford said. “Set the forwards to carry the ball more.” The pre-season tryouts have resulted in 28 players signed up for the season. Law- ford is optimistic about the team’s chances. “About half of them played last year and a few of them also played regional rugby,” he said. “And some of them also played for the Ottawa Irish (rugby club). They should all do well.”

gesting its members continue withholding those services to force the Wynne govern- ment to capitulate on some working condi- tions in schools. For the Wildcats varsity girls, the labour dispute shortened their pre-season training for the spring rugby season. Another handicap is the weather has not warmed up fast enough to thaw out their home fields so they can practise outside. So far Coach Foster and his players have had to ROCKLAND | “Go big or go home” is an old sports saying. This year theWildcats junior boys are going big on the playing field as they try to go home with the wins. Coach Andrew Lawford noted that for the first time in a while Rockland District High School (RDHS) has a junior boys rugby team with some real size to it. “We’re very big,” he said, with a grin, fol- lowing one of the latest indoor practice ses- sions. “Finally, a big team.” Past seasons the RDHS Wildcats juniors have averaged half a head or so shorter than any of the players on the opposing teams with less bulk to match. Being small- er in player size than most of their compe- tition meant the Wildcats had to rely even more on speed and skills for their field tac- tics and it has been a strategy that worked well for them, taking the team to EOSSAA championships several times.

settle for indoor drills in the school gym. Another problem the coach has to work out is planning strategy when half of last year’s veteran Wildcats team have left. Seven of them graduated while the eighth moved to Orléans and may be now playing for one of RDHS’ rivals. “We still have three or four very skilled (veteran) players,” Coach Foster said. “Like Jessica Joubarne, our fly-half.” During the past summer Joubarne played


ROCKLAND | Both the late spring thaw- ing and the past labour dispute between the teachers union and the school board have made for a short pre-season train- ing schedule for the Wildcats varsity girls rugby team. “I won’t really know until we start (play- ing), where we’re at,” said Coach Bill Foster. Rockland District High School (RDHS) was one of many public sector schools in Ontario that saw afterschool activities for students grind to a halt during the winter and into early spring because the unions that represent elementary and second- ary school teachers were at odds with the provincial government over Bill 115, which curbed pay raises and other benefits for teachers as part of then-premier Dalton Mc- Guinty’s economic restraint measures. Premier Kathleen Wynne has since can- celled the legislation but while it was in effect both of the teachers unions were advising their members to refuse volunteer duties as coaches for school league sports and other afterschool activities and pro- grams. The Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) has since told its mem- bers that they can be volunteers again if they choose though the Elementary Teach- ers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) is still sug-

Wildcats go big this season

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