NANAIMO — The Premier League rugby season is winding down for the Nanaimo Hornets, with one game left against the UBC Old Boys Ravens this weekend.
It's the second season at the Premier level for the Hornets who sit with a league record of 3-11-1.
Nanaimo has wins over Cowichan in the Wayne Peace Cup and James Bay in the Barnard Cup in island only competition as well.
New coach Simon Fitzgerald says the squad is still adjusting to the faster and more physical play at the Premier level but he's seeing improvement from team.
"I’ve been really impressed with the attitude of the players, it’s a cliche but no one can question their heart and determination," said Fitgerald. "They have received glowing praise from all opposition this season on their continued improvement and also for the way they have played. With an abrasive and physical brand of rugby, with no backward steps, this has created some very exciting moments and lasting memories."
Fitzgerald says their numbers have grown this year with over 50 players split between the Premier and Premier Reserve teams.
There's a wide range in experience from beginner to age grade internationals, and the Hornets would like to see more local crossover athletes give rugby a try.
Skills and concepts in sports like football, lacrosse, and hockey could translate well to the pitch for rugby.
The Premier side will wrap up the season with their awards banquet on April 27, but the Division 1 Women's team will be moving to the playoffs after a home game this Saturday against the Brit Lions at Pioneer Park.
The Hornets Rugby Club includes teams at different age and skill levels, and the club will be expanding shortly thanks to some new initiatives.
An elementary school program is being launched in co-operation with Pacific Sport, along with an academy program.
Later this month the academy will begin, run through the North Vancouver Island Rugby Union for elite level players from the ages of 15-19.
Fitzgerald says there is a true family atmosphere within all levels of the organization and he hopes anyone interested in trying rugby will contact the club through the website or facebook.
On twitter: @danmarshall77
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