Sports history was made in Terrace on June 15 with the grand opening of the first dedicated rugby field in northern B.C.
The Terrace Northmen Rugby Club hosted the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Coast Mountain College during their final league weekend.
“It has been quite a process, it’s really been quite a feat… [but today] the energy was quite high. The best way to describe it, I would say is just overwhelmingly supportive,” says Evan van Dyk, president of the Terrace Northmen Rugby Club.
“We’ve been playing rugby here for 45 years so this gives us a place we can call home. We can develop the game on rugby-dedicated fields and we can hopefully grow the sport, here in northern British Columbia.”
The Prince Rupert Seamen, Prince George Gnats and William Lake Rustlers attended the event to celebrate and play their final matches against the Terrace Northmen Rugby Club, who also scored the highest points overall and were crowned the season’s winners.
Van Dyk says the project to complete the field, which took five years to complete and cost $100,000, has been the club’s dream for decades. Through a Northern Development Initiative Trust grant, fundraisers, sponsors and other donations, they were able to fund their dream of having a rugby field come true.
To speed up the process and reduce costs, the Terrace rugby club took on a lot of the groundwork with the help of local experts and contractors.
“It’s been a long, long few years and a lot of organization getting out and doing the work ourselves,” said Van Dyk. “We came out, dug the ditches, laid the pipes, sealed it all together and installed the sprinklers as a rugby team… but it just means it’s a lot more meaningful to play on now. It’s something we were a part of.”
Located at the local college grounds, Van Dyk says their league won’t have to pay an annual fee to use the field and it will be available to the public.
At the ribbon-cutting, they also had the field blessed by Kitsumkalum leader Sharon Bryant of the Laxibu clan to acknowledge the First Nations’ land the field resides on.
“It was important for us to recognize where we’re playing. We wanted to make sure that we did this right and had a proper welcome onto this field. That was something we’re really pleased to be able to do,” says Van Dyk.
Now that they have a proper field to play on, they’re eager to get more people to come out to their games and join their team. Playing since 2006, Van Dyk says that rugby is a very inclusive sport.
“If you haven’t really got into team sports before as a child, there’s a spot for you in rugby,” he says. “The teams are extremely welcoming when you arrive.
“The teams will usually provide food, drinks and everything else to host you. And we do the same when people come to us so it’s just a very welcoming sport.”