Snow playin’ it

Andrew Curtis invites you to learn the perfect team sport

This year, don’t use cold weather as an excuse to get out of shape. While many people adjust their activity level during Winnipeg’s cold winter months, Andrew Curtis, president of the University of Winnipeg’s new rugby team, has no intention of letting a little snow get in the way.

“Every other city in Canada has a thriving rugby program which brings a strong culture and positive atmosphere,” Curtis, who’s passionate about increasing interest in the sport here in Winnipeg, says.

After starting out in high school football and wrestling, Curtis was drawn to rugby because a team’s success ultimately depends on a complete group effort.  “It is the perfect team sport,” he claims. “All players work together both offensively and defensively. When the play works and all teammates cooperate... it just feels really great to see it happen.”

Unlike other more well established teams, newcomers and beginners don’t need to feel shy if they’re interested in learning the game. “This is our first year with the program and we are just trying to get off the ground,” he explains, revealing his enthusiasm about introducing new people to the sport.

“We are a very beginner team and we get brand new people every week, including women.” Even for those of us who may not have been sporty in the past, Curtis insists that rugby is “cheap to play and easy to learn.”

As for braving the outdoors as the temperature drops, rugby is well known for its tough, determined players across the globe, and is traditionally played no matter what the weather forecast looks like.

“Right now we are still practicing outside every wednesday at 4pm on the grass area on Portage. We will continue to do so as long as everyone agrees. There is a winter snow rugby sevens (seven people on the field per team) tournament that a senior men’s team hosts. We are looking at entering that later this year.”

There are a lot of benefits to staying active in the frosty air, besides the childlike fun of jumping around in the snow. Outdoor exercise boosts your energy levels, making it a great way to beat the winter blues. Also, it can improve your immune system, which could help you out when facing crowded malls and busses full of people with the sniffles.

If you’re interested in playing rugby but would still rather stay inside, Curtis says there are options available. “There are senior men’s and women’s teams all throughout the city. To find a good team for you, just google Winnipeg rugby and search where each team is located within the city.”

For Curtis it isn’t as much about where you decide to play, but more about getting people interested in trying a new sport. “To me, creating and promoting rugby within Manitoba is the right thing to do because of the good it can do [for] so many people.”

Though his loyalty to building his own team remains strong, Curtis maintains that “the university level for rugby has so much potential, and that is where the future of this sport will thrive.”

Published in Volume 68, Number 11 of The Uniter (November 13, 2013)

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