Gallery: Elk Valley Bulls take new season by the horns

The poor weather was no match for the Elk Valley Bulls’ first rugby tournament of the year, last Saturday.

Rucking in the Rockies attracted teams from around the Kootenays, who came out to Fernie to warm up their legs before the official season begins.

The Bulls trampled the Red Deer Titans 27-15 in the morning but lost the following game, a close 14-19 match against the Foothills Lions.

Team captain Morgan “Argh” Bee said it’s great to be back on the field.

The team this year is a healthy mix of old and new, with many returning players as well as several new faces. Bee explained that their core group of around 10 players has grown much stronger this year.

Their main competition this year will be Cranbrook in the Kootenay Rugby Union league, and Bee said they’ve got their work cut out for them.

“Watching them play today, it’s going to be a hard season. Three games, we’ve got a lot of work to do in training but I think we’re right in it again,” he said.

Saturday marked the Bulls’ first game against Foothills and their performance made their captain proud.

The local team was inches away from scoring a tie-breaking try but a bad bounce caused the Bulls’ kick to land in the arms of a Foothills winger.

“We came out hard, we’re doing better in the forwards, scrum was looking tight,” said Bee.

Pre-season games like this are valuable, he explained, as they allow them to iron out the wrinkles and figure out which position best suits each player.

Above all, Bee says their team is made up of a group of guys that don’t quit and this gives them hope for the upcoming season.

“We’ve got guys that aren’t afraid of a hard road, so I think we’re looking good this year,” said Bee.

The first regular season match is Saturday, May 11 against Cranbrook at College of the Rockies in Cranbrook. Kickoff is at 2 p.m.

On May 18, the team will travel to Missoula, Montana, for Maggotfest. They look forward to experiencing rugby at the highest of skill levels. Bee explained that at the end of the day, they will take any opportunity they can to grow their rugby family.

“The main thing for us is building rugby in the Kootenays,” he said. “We’ve got seven years with the men’s team, the women’s team is onto the fourth year, we’re onto our second year of rookie rugby.”

The group is always looking for more players and encourages rugby enthusiasts of any age or skill level to come out, and practice with the group.

The captain even encouraged those who don’t want to take part in the contact part of the sport – come out for a fitness and skill night. Practices take place Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. at Prentice Park.

The Bulls’ first home game of the season will be May 25 against Cranbrook at Prentice Park. Kickoff is at 2:30 p.m.

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The Elk Valley Bulls rugby team hosted the Rucking in the Rockies tournament last weekend, attracting teams from around the region for a pre-season match-up. With a mix of veterans and new players, the team is looking forward to a solid upcoming season. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

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