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Highlanders rugby team hold first game in Airdrie

By: Lucas Punkari

  |  Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2014 10:48 am

Airdrie Highlanders player Steve Godziuk lept up into the air with some  help from his teammates in a battle for the ball during the team's first ever game against the Banff Bears on May 10.
Airdrie Highlanders player Steve Godziuk lept up into the air with some help from his teammates in a battle for the ball during the team's first ever game against the Banff Bears on May 10.
Lucas Punkari/Rocky View Publishing

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On the surface, a 51-0 loss to the Banff Bears may not seem like the best start for the Airdrie Highlanders rugby team.

However, player/coach Tim Van Vliet was beyond thrilled with how the club’s first game went at George McDougall High School on May 10.

“We had one objective coming into today, and that was joy,” Van Vliet explained. “We want the players to experience the joy of the game, we wanted the spectators to have a good time, and we wanted to learn as a team as to where we were weak and where we were strong.”

“It was hard sometimes to get things going out there, especially when you are playing against a team that won the second division title (in the Calgary Rugby Union) a few years ago and are now playing in the third division with guys like us,” he added.

“However, I think everyone here still enjoyed themselves and we can build off of this.”

The Highlanders rugby club team, which was formed over the winter by Van Vliet, is an adult all-male team that currently consists of 20 members, with many of them suiting up for the first time.

One of the newcomers to the sport was Andrew McLeod, who played in his first rugby game for the Highlanders and had a blast doing so.

“I used to play football on a regular basis and I doubt I will be going back to that,” McLeod smiled.

“I knew the feeling of being hit already, so that wasn’t an eye-opener for me, but the pace of the game was different,” he added.

“It’s not like football where you get a break in between plays, as you are just running around non-stop as soon as the game gets going.”

The next game for the Highlanders rugby team has yet to be determined, as the Calgary Rugby Union has not finalized its schedule for the 2014 season.

“We know that we will probably be playing on May 24, but everything else about that game is still a mystery,” Van Vliet said. “With the weather being as bad as it has been so far this spring, a lot of teams have been dropping out of the league because not many guys want to come out and play.”

“As a result of that, everyone has been having their schedules all switched around, but we can use this little bit of a break to get ready for that game, no matter who we play,” he added.

When asked what he and his teammates can do to improve upon their debut performance, McLeod said the Highlanders team spirit would help them build on its early work.

“I think if we just work as a team, we can get better and better all of the time,” McLeod said.

“We already have that bond in place, and we are getting used to our game situations.”

“I think we will become a successful team in the long-term.”


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