A startup Merritt rugby team hopes its plea to average Joes will help fill the remainder of its roster for the upcoming season.
The Merritt Barbarians rugby team, a second year, all-ages team competing in a four-team division, says anyone can join, regardless of past experience in the British game.
“Pretty much anybody can play,” says team spokesman Nathan Brigden, who helped start the team last year in order to replace the defunct MSS team. “There’s a spot for bigger guys and a spot for smaller, faster guys, and it’s a great way to stay in shape.”
The Barbarians, who will be coached by Englishman Tom Wigglesworth, will compete in the Okanagan Rugby Union with West Kelowna, Penticton, and the defending champions from Vernon.
“We’re hoping to improve on our 2-4 season we had last year,” says Brigden. “We have a good core; the team is made up of quite a few younger guys.”
Brigden says they are hoping to have 25 players.
“Eighty per cent of the team is returning.”
Available positions are open to all ages. The season starts April 21 and runs until about the end of July. The Barbarians will play a total of six games, three home and three away.
The team began practicing March 20, and now meets every Tuesday and Thursday starting at 6 p.m. at Voght Park in Merritt.
“We spend some time with skill development and quite a bit of time just playing touch rugby."
Apr 22 @ West Kelowna Grizzlies
Apr 28 @ Vernon Jackals
May 5 host Penticton Harlequins
May 12 @ Kelowna Crows
June 2 host West Kelowna
June 16 host Vernon
June 23 @ Penticton
July 7 host Kelowna