The bell rang early at Edward Milne community school last Thursday afternoon — just as the EMCS Wolverines senior boys rugby team ran to the school field, chanting “hoooah! E-M-C-S!” to join their rivals, the Esquimalt Ravens.
Curious and a little bemused, students spilled out one by one, from their respective classrooms and accumulated near the field sidelines. Cheers of “go Sooke!” echoed all across the line.
The first 40-minute part of the match had begun.
“Left! Run left!” yelled one of the players, who, at first glance, appeared to be running into a battlefield with shells going off all over — but these weren’t shells; they were battle-hardened rugby players — grabbing and tackling in any way possible to push through the line and get their hands on the ball.
Following the second quarter, the EMCS boys kept on plowing through – albeit not without challenge – the Ravens were just as nimble, booking off with the ball like supercharged squirrels as soon as they had hold of it. This ferocious combination of speed and agility brought a few close calls on the home turf, but the Wolverines bit back – and hard – scoring 9-0 in the final 20 minutes.
The student crowds began to dissipate, but to EMCS coach Matt Mortenson, this was the best match he’d ever seen.
“They have come together as a team and they play and train as a unit; it’s a code that they set at the beginning of the season and it’s come through,” he said. “I’m very proud.”
Mortenson says ‘the code’ has been everything so far; propelling the 18-player team into first place.
“Right now it’s the energy, and how they feel about each other, and the way they feel about the game and their school,” he said, adding that the training and attention to small details is what has helped moved the team forward.
“Majority of them now are all training together, and it just makes all the difference in the world for the chemistry and the dynamics and what you’re seeing out there, because it’s all the small stuff that matters in this game at this point,” Mortenson said. “The more mistakes you eliminate, then the greater chances you have.”
Now competing against AAA and AA schools, the Wolverines have a few challenges ahead of them, but after all, it’s nothing they can’t handle.
Next game is away against Spectrum.