Junior Harvesters ready for kick off 0
Waterford’s Greg Wise and the rest of the Norfolk Harvesters Under-18 Junior Boys squad are getting set to kick off their inaugural Niagara Rugby Union season next week. (JACOB ROBINSON Simcoe Reformer)
Just a few weeks removed from one of the most competitive, hardest hitting rugby final games in Norfolk high school history, players from both sides are learning to peacefully co-exist.
Several competitors from both the Waterford Wolves and Delhi Raiders are signed up to play with the newly-formed Norfolk Harvesters Under-18 boys squad, and are getting along so well, you’d swear there was no rivalry between the two schools at all – just a group of kids working towards the greater good.
“I’ve seen some pretty tight battles in just one year here, but actually there’s been no complications. I was thinking there was going to be a few conflicts and stuff, but there’s been nothing,” said Harvesters coach Travis DePasquale, who also coaches WDHS. “All the guys here want to play rugby, that’s what it comes down to. They don’t care who they’re playing with, they just want to play.”
The group will forge a path within the Niagara Rugby Union’s Junior ‘Green’ Division the Harvesters organization has been planning on for years. With the growth of Delhi in the boys high school division and Waterford being the county’s resident rugby hotbed, the Harvesters executive saw an opportunity to include a junior boys team, who along with a first year Under-18 girls squad will serve as the feeder system to the two adult rosters.
“We still need to bring in numbers from Simcoe and (Holy) Trinity because we’re pulling from mostly Delhi and Waterford, but with our first practice (Monday), we already had 12 guys, it’s looking good,” said DePasquale.
“It’s good seeing them adapt to each other after all the battles that they had this year – it’s good to see them actually smile, play and work together as one unit.”
Talk to players from both Delhi and Waterford and you quickly see there is no animosity between them. Having knocked heads for the better part of three years, both sides were looking forward to joining forces to take on some out of county competition. Waterford’s roster contained plenty of speed this season while Delhi’s was power based – putting them together has players believing good things will happen.
“Playing against these guys, it was nuts. (Delhi’s roster) have big guys, their forwards can smash and we love playing with those guys,” said Waterford fly half Greg Wise. “That was our weakest point — not having the big guys — but bringing these guys out to Harvesters, they’ll learn a lot more and they’re already massive. They’re just going to rip it up against other teams for sure.”
Added inside centre Joel Devos of Delhi, “It’s good that we’re combining both the schools because we had a hell of a (championship) game there. We’re going to see what we can do and hopefully have a good turnout.”
DePasquale will be joined on the bench by co-coach and longtime Norfolk rugby supporter Scott Mauthe.
It’s a good thing newcomers to the local rugby club are getting along with one another too, because it won’t be long until they’re playing together on the pitch. The new club is set to begin play next week – the league’s official schedule is expected to be finalized by Friday.
Wise said players aren’t at all nervous about competing together for the first time, but more fired up about their potential to make life miserable for opponents.
“It’s going to be tough for some of the teams we’re playing because all these guys have lots of skill to bring to the table,” said the Waterford senior.
“Especially with coach (DePasquale) and Mauthe helping us out, we’re going to be insane — we’re going tear it up against teams.”
Having once captained the Wolves and suited up with the Harvesters as a player himself, DePasquale credited a number of sources with the game’s growth in the area, not the least of which has been a solid foundation of coaches at the high school level.
“Having the consistency at the schools is really bringing the constancy to Norfolk Harvesters. Being able to pull from all these places helps bring everybody (together),” he said, adding the 2011 World Cup being broadcast country wide helped open some eyes.
“It just shows the game’s developing in Canada,” he added.
“People are realizing … you’re not out to hurt people — you’re out to hit people, absolutely — but you’re also out there to score points and play a game of rugby.”
Any players wishing to join the Harvesters junior teams can attend practice at WDHS Monday and Tuesday nights beginning at 6:30 p.m. No prior experience is required.
The organization’s senior men's and women’s teams will be in action on Saturday in Waterford. The women’s game is set for noon while the men kickoff at 3 p.m.
519-426-3528 ext. 121