Surrey, B.C. team wins Dinning rugby tournament - May 3, 2018
BY DENNY SCOTT
The F.E. Madill Secondary School Junior Rugby Team welcomed visitors from British Columbia last week, just a short while after visiting the western province themselves.
Through the YMCA Youth Exchange Program, the students from Madill visited students from Earl Marriott Secondary School (EMS) in March, staying with rugby players from Earl Marriott’s junior team. In total, 26 students, alongside coaches and chaperones made the trip to British Columbia with the same number of players visiting Huron County last week into this week.
Madill teacher and coach Lee Ann McDonald said it was a very valuable experience for the students. She pointed to some unique experiences that were offered to the students through not only the official program with the school but also through the billeting families when Madill students visited B.C.
“The billet families were so generous, warm and welcoming to the students,” she said. “Everyone had a great time.”
The trip made a specific mark on a handful of students who had never flown anywhere, McDonald said.
The trip was fun, McDonald said but it was also an eye-opening experience for Madill players.
While rugby is a popular high school sport in Huron County, in British Columbia, its more akin to hockey in its prevalence, leading the EMS team that Madill was staying with to have a lot more history and experience than Madill’s players.
“They were in awe of the skill level the students had,” McDonald said. “The students there had started playing so much earlier than our players do.”
McDonald said that all the reports from the EMS team were positive as well, saying that all the local billet families had lined up amazing opportunities for the students.
The only apology she had to make was for the weather as, when the students from B.C., who are used to double-digit weather this time of the year, arrived in Huron County on April 24, there was snow in the air.
The exchange program is funded by the federal government and offers grants for students to travel. McDonald explained that, if the travel is tied to a sport like the rugby team’s trip was, schools in different provinces will be matched up for reciprocal trips.
She said that EMS participated in the program last year and was paired with a school in Stratford, so she knew that getting paired with the B.C. school’s team was a possibility.
She said she is very interested in participating in the program again, however it may need to be biennial as individual students can only participate once.
As part of the EMS rugby team visiting Huron County, they were able to play in the 12th annual Matthew Dinning Memorial Cup rugby tournament at F.E. Madill Secondary School.
The tournament was created by Lincoln and Laurie Dinning in memory of their son Matthew, a military police officer from Wingham who was killed in action in Afghanistan.
The tournament, now in its 12th year, traditionally welcomes students from the surrounding school communities and this year, EMS was able to participate in it.
At the end of the one-day tournament, as fortune would have it, Madill was facing off against EMS. People who shared houses and possibly rooms with each other found themselves on opposite ends of the pitch. EMS came away with the win, earning two tries while blanking Madill.
The Dinnings were happy with the tournament, with Lincoln explaining that the tournament had come a long way from a memory of his sons playing rugby on the Madill field in their youth to now, a national competition with the championship plaque heading back to B.C.
McDonald said if Madill had to lose their home tournament, it wasn’t so bad losing to a team to which the players felt so connected.
Lincoln, in an earlier discussion with The Citizen, said he anticipated EMS doing well in the tournament. He said the entire team consisted of Grade 9 students because, every year, they have enough to fill the team from just one grade whereas, locally, teams are comprised of Grade 9 and 10 students.