The LSS Blues make an offensive play with the ball during a match against Shawnigan on May 3.

The LSS Blues make an offensive play with the ball during a match against Shawnigan on May 3.

Ladysmith Blues gearing up for rugby provincials

Game on May 10 will determine if Blues finish first in the North Island.

The Ladysmith Blues high school boys AA rugby team is carrying out its season as planned, says coach Pete Kis-Toth.

The decision to continue the season without a teacher sponsor was finalized last week, shortly after the B.C. Teacher’s Federation announced its withdrawal from all extracurricular activities, effective April 23. The Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District ruled it would be up to individual schools to decide which events would go on as planned.

“We did have to cancel a game while this was sorted out,” Kis-Toth said. “But the school, in particular the vice-principal and principal, have been really positive and great in supporting me.”

The Blues’ last game was an exhibition match May 3 against Shawnigan’s AAA team. The result was a close 12-7 loss with some strong defensive play, Kis-Toth said.

“We probably could have won if a few things had gone better, but the team played quite well,” he said. “Offensively, Shawnigan had a really well-organized defense, so it was hard to penetrate their defense.”

The Blues will now ramp up their practices to two to three each week as they prepare for provincials. Their next game, against Brentwood, will determine which team finishes first in the North Island division. It takes place Thurs., May 10, at the Cowichan Rugby Club at 3:30 p.m.

Kis-Toth said the team experienced major growth during a special trip to California to participate in the Fullerton International Rugby tournament in March. Facing opponents nearly twice their size and stature and several years older, the boys developed a better understanding of the physicality of the game, he explained.

“Our rugby skills were probably superior, but they were just really big and athletic kids,” he said. “We finished seventh, but every game we played, we were really close to winning. Even the ones we lost, the kids never quit.”

Kis-Toth said he expects the Blues will be up against some tough competition at the provincial level [starting May 26], but the team’s hard work is paying off.

“The team has really started playing well in the last two weeks,” he said. “They’ve really figured out the game and are playing excellent rugby.”