Halifax set to host top men’s rugby players during Super League championship
Nearly 7,000 people packed into the newly refurbished Wanderers Grounds last summer to cheer on Rugby Canada’s men’s squad as they took on the United States.
That event was the first to be hosted on the newly upgraded grounds, and now it’s clear: the number of professional sporting events hosted there is only going to keep growing.
“This really is the vision of what we had for the Wanderers Grounds. This is a community facility that is designed to host more than just soccer,” said Derek Martin, president and founder of Sports & Entertainment Atlantic.
The production company brought a proposal to the Halifax Regional Municipality in 2017 looking to refurbish the facility.
Now in its second year of action, the natural grass field in the heart of downtown Halifax is set to welcome its second major sporting event: the Canadian Super League Rugby Championship.
“This is the Eastern Canadian Super League. The objective of this is to bring a branch between playing for your club rugby and then playing for your country. Professional rugby has just taken a first step in North America with professional teams starting to pop up all across the United States and in Toronto. We’re trying to now grab a brand that will give an opportunity for players to be seen on the professional level,” said Jack Hanratty, director of rugby with the Keltics, Nova Scotia’s rugby team.
Hanratty has not only led the development of Keltics rugby in the province, he’s also on the front lines of coaching and is thrilled to see the opportunity that events like this tournament bring to aspiring young players.
The Keltics aren’t only hosting the tournament, they’re defending their championship title.
“I know we have a lot of work to do but I think the players having that chance to play at home is incredibly special and I think it will just give us a little kick on as we continue our preparation,” Hanratty said.
The adrenaline could be felt surging from the stage as the announcement was made, anticipating a fierce matchup.
Keltics captain Evan Dickie is encouraging spectators to come out and prepare for a tough, competitive showdown.
“Competitive-wise, there’s never a blowout; they’re always close. Anyone can win it on any given day,” Dickie said.
Beginning Friday, June 28, senior men’s teams from Ontario, eastern Ontario, Quebec, P.E.I. and New Brunswick will attempt to dethrone Nova Scotia in the Super League championship.
While men’s players will undoubtedly be fired up by the opportunity to be selected, female players in the province are also riding a wave of success.
Taking part in the announcement was 17-year-old Emma MacDougall.
A high school player from Citadel High in Halifax, MacDougall was recently selected to represent Canada for the under-18 age group.
“Rugby has kind of been something that’s pushed me and my work ethic and kind of pushed me out of my comfort zone,” she said.
The Canadian Super League tournament runs over Canada Day weekend in Halifax.
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