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Rugby in the Valley reaches three decades of play

Published on June 20, 2017

This file photo from several years ago shows some of the intensity involved in playing rugby in the Valley.

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PORT WILLIAMS, NS – “There are so many ways to get involved,” says Ashley Brooker, president of the Valley Bulldogs Rugby Football Club.

The first team photo was taken in 1987. Back row are: Richard Sturk 'Whitey', left, Sean Alexander, Chris Rawding, and Paul Comeau; middle: Craig Stiles, Lance Cushing, Mike Whitehead, Jonathon Cowie, Scott Gardner, Shawn Skinner; front: John Davidson, Mike Jerrod, Paul Read, Keenan Lewis, Michael Bent, Robin Bent and coach John Bent ‘Jack.’
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Summer programs are just starting and this is a special 30th anniversary year for the organization, Brooker notes.
Chasity Joudrey, who is part of the Bulldogs 30th reunion planning committee, says they are trying to find players they have lost touch with over the years.
Described as an extremely social organization, which has experienced great on-field accomplishments throughout its existence, the club was founded in 1987.
To celebrate 30 years of rugby in the Valley, Brooker says, “we are hosting a 30th reunion. We are inviting all past Valley Bulldogs and Valley Tide players and supporters to join us August 4-6.”
She says the weekend will “kick off with a multi-generational touch game followed social gathering of past and current players to connect, reconnect and reminisce over the last 30 years of Valley Bulldogs Rugby at our sponsor, Wayfarer's Ale Society, in Port Williams.”
Saturday, Brooker continued, we are hosting four matches; men’s, women’s, mini’s and Valley Bulldogs Old Boys game on the Collins Road Field in Port Williams.
“After 30 years the old boys have really seen the sport grow,” she noted.
The matches on Saturday will be followed by a bbq, speeches and dedications to those who have grown and supported the game over the years! After an eventful Saturday, Sunday will be a day left to for the attendees to explore old favourite spots or find some new hidden gems within the Annapolis Valley, she concluded.
The Bulldogs have achieved success at both the provincial and Maritime levels. In 2010, the Bulldogs amalgamated with the Valley Tide Women’s Team. So Brooker says the club consists of both a men’s and women’s team and a mini rugby program.
The president says, “we are excited to start another great year of rugby in the Valley. The men's and women's sides are always looking for new players.”
Training sessions and home games are held in Port Williams, Brooker adds.
A coach and player herself, she says rugby is a spirited sport with a unique culture.
“It is a welcoming, supportive and inclusive environment,” Brooker suggests, which “makes it a sport for all.”
At the provincial level, she is trying to encourage female referees. The rugby organization is subsidizing the training in order to build capacity.
Rugby Nova Scotia also has courses lined up to teach coaches how to recognize the signs of concussion.
According to Brooker, most female players start in high school, which offers a level playing field to start, and all body shapes are accepted.
She says that rugby in the Valley is a tight knit, friendly community.
“Come try it out,” Brooker says, adding that day camps this summer are going to help promote the sport.
“I would encourage anyone to get involved, men, women, older boys, mini and multi-generations. We’re welcoming to all ages.”

Get out and play
To foster young players, the Valley Bulldogs will be running a Mini Rugby program this summer on Tuesday nights in Port Williams from 6 7 p.m. beginning July 4.
Mini Rugby is a fun, non-contact way to introduce the game of rugby to kids. The program, Brooker says, draws upon fundamental movement skills and the principles of long-term athlete development to promote physical activity for life.

Here’s how to connect
Want to get involved? Contact the Valley Bulldogs Rugby Football Club by email: (valleybulldogsrfc@gmail.com); Facebook (Valley Bulldogs Rugby Football Club); Instagram (ValleyBulldogsRFC); or Twitter (Valley_RFC).