Rugby players from Nelson and three other Kootenay community captured four medals at the Kamloops Rugby Sevens tournament last weekend.
Two under-18 boys teams finished with medals to match their names. Kootenay Gold beat Kootenay Silver 36-14 in a game that had head coach Michael Joyce chuckling on the sidelines.
“It was funny because in the huddle, the ref was confused because I had guys in different jerseys so they were all in a huddle together. So I had them all do a cheer and go play, and they played hard against each other,” said Joyce, who also coaches rugby at L.V. Rogers.
The U18 girls team, who Joyce said had the hardest road to the final, edged Nanaimo to win gold, while the U16 boys team also took bronze.
The Kootenay Rugby Union brought together 66 players from Nelson, Grand Forks, Castlegar and Cranbrook for the tournament, which for the first time included boys competition.
Rugby sevens is a faster paced version of traditional rugby in which seven players a side, as opposed to the usual 15, compete during 14-minute games.
Joyce compared the sport, which made its Olympic debut last year at the Rio Games, to three-on-three overtime hockey.
“It’s easier to understand,” he said. “The 15’s game is so technical and tactical, and for the purist that’s great because you want to see all the little details of all the tactics. Sevens is flat-out speed and power and full out the whole time. It’s advertised as a try a minute.”
Kootenay players also had the opportunity to train with former Canada sevens player Phil Mack, a Victoria native who played scrum half with the 15’s at the 2015 Rugby World Cup and won gold in sevens with Canada at the 2015 Pan Am Games.
“He hung out with the boys and did a session with them and they did some elite testing for the B.C. sevens program as well,” said Joyce. “Sweet weekend.”