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Rugby taking its place in CDN-NDG

The sport of rugby has grown considerably in the borough and in Montreal during the past few years, and those involved think it has the potential to grow even more.

“It really is

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an emerging sport,” said David

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Juneau, president of the Montreal Regional Rugby Association.

In early November the association released a letter explaining how it thinks rugby has everything a sport needs to be successful here in Montreal. Juneau said one thing that has held its growth back is the negative connotations many parents still connect to it.

“It’s a sport often associated with violence, mostly because there’s no equipment, but I don’t believe that association is right,” he said.

In Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, the Montreal Exiles rugby club sprung up a few years ago, now encompassing everything from a mini club to a senior team.

Juneau called it one of the most lively rugby clubs in West Montreal, praising its junior programs.

Both universities in the borough also have rugby clubs, with Université de Montréal launching its rugby teams in the last few years. Concordia University men’s team head coach, Clive Gibson, has seen the sport grow during the 18 years he’s spent coaching at the school.

“The most encouraging aspect is the development at the youth level, in both the number of organizations and number of participants,” he said.

“Most important is the parental involvement that you’re starting to see. That means there’s a chance of it growing. That’s what you see in other sports here like soccer, hockey, football and baseball.”

Though rugby is now present at the university level, Gibson knows for it to really take root it needs to have a broader base and be more present in high schools and elementary schools.

High school teams are becoming fairly regular, but Gibson said the sport needs to make its way into physical education classes.

“If you start a team at a high school you get 25 players involved with rugby. If you get it on the curriculum, even just for three or four weeks, you get 650 kids exposed to it,” he said.

It’s an idea echoed by Juneau.

“Maybe more kids playing would lead to more teachers teaching it, or maybe more teachers teaching it would lead to more kids playing. It’s hard to tell,” he said.

What both also agreed on was the sport’s potential if there were an increase in visibility.

“If it gets out and gets known, it will take off and flourish, that’s for sure,” said Gibson.

Jesse Feith

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