Note: Since this story was published, rugby has been reinstated
As of noon May 2nd, the sport of rugby has been eliminated from public high schools in Nova Scotia.
A memo sent to principals in the province by the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation says the board of governors made the decision at their regularly scheduled spring meeting.
“After a thorough review of incident report data provided by the School Insurance Program, the board has decided to take this action,” the memo said. “Student safety remains the top priority of the federation.”
According to a spokesperson for the Cape Breton Victoria Regional Centre for Education, an international student attending Sydney Academy was injured during a rugby match Wednesday.
“EHS responded to the site and the student is receiving medical attention,” said an emailed statement to HalifaxToday.ca/NEWS 95.7 from Marjorie Graham.
She said, due to privacy reasons, the education centre would not be providing further details.
“I’m in shock,” said Rugby Nova Scotia’s Jack Hanratty.
The news of the cancellation comes to the coach as he’s in the process of choosing the roster for Canada Under-20 Women’s team for the Tri-Nations Cup.
He said high school is when most rugby players are introduced to the sport.
“It’s where they get to taste the game for the first time. It’s where they fall in love with it,” Hanratty explained. “This decision is going to have such an impact on our membership, on our youth teams, on our foundation.”
He said Rugby Nova Scotia is disappointed the organization wasn’t consulted or informed before the seemingly sudden decision was announced.
“We want to work with our high school partners. They’re not official members of Rugby Canada or Rugby Nova Scotia, but we have worked incredibly hard at trying to make this game safe,” he said.
“We understand rugby’s a contact sport. We understand injuries do happen, but instead of hiding away from that, we’ve put it at the forefront of our minds … we’ve brought in to all aspects of the game, if a player has an injury, they speak up, they don’t try to play through it.”
Rugby Nova Scotia requested a meeting with the NSSAF.
An online petition to protest the sport’s cancellation has already been launched.
The post on change.org by Charlotte Thomas says her teammates are “appalled and distraught.”
“We learn to work together, trust each other, and we make friendships that last miles and years,” says the petition. “The student athlete body pours sweat, tears, and yes, sometimes blood into the sports we play.”
Thomas adds she believes there are fewer injuries in rugby than in football and hockey.