Kyle Denton, Sports Editor
Rugby falls rather far down the list of popular sports in Canada, but there’s a new derivation of the British sport that’s making quite the splash at Laurier Brantford.
The Aquatics club recently started playing underwater rugby and are led by fourth year student Michelle Eng.
The underwater rugby club was first established this past November, and now consists of 12 Laurier Brantford students while partnering themselves with the underwater rugby team of Brantford.
Underwater rugby is played 16 feet under the water surface with five players per side, including a goaltender to guard each teams net. The object of the game is simple, do whatever it takes to score on the opposing goal. The most difficult aspect of the game, admits fourth year student Andrew Francella, is having to adapt to being under water.
“The toughest part athletically was dealing with all the aspects of being underwater like breathing technique, and the water pressure,” Francella said. “Combine that with trying to tackle people underwater and it becomes really physically strenuous.”
Francella admits that for first time players the technique may be frustrating, but the opportunities to develop your skills are endless.
“It’s one of those things where once you start to get the hang of everything its very rewarding. After it was done I was really anxious to get at it again to try and master some of the techniques.”
Students of Laurier Brantford have begun to take notice of this sport, and the following it has gained based off word of mouth has paid off, with the first all-Laurier scrimmage taking place last Wednesday.
Eng realizes what a unique opportunity the students of Laurier Brantford have, being that the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre is the only pool in the greater Toronto area to offer underwater rugby.
Eng would like to continue to see the sport develop at Laurier Brantford, and even though the OCAA does not offer underwater rugby on the college circuit, she sees an opportunity for Laurier Brantford to take it one step further.
“[Waterloo] campus doesn’t have an underwater rugby team or an underwater hockey team. If we were to organize a team to compete we could be the first varsity team from Laurier Brantford,” Eng said. “I may not be around to see that though.”
Even though that dream is in the distant future, Eng won’t stop at promoting the sport as much as she can on campus. What started out as a handful of students learning a new sport has quickly developed into a fully fledged club that has shown incessant growth.
The underwater rugby team hosts practices Monday nights from 8:30-9:30pm and Saturday’s from 2-4pm. They play a game each week on Wednesday from 8-9:30pm. For more information you can contact Michelle Eng at firstname.lastname@example.org