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Despite a 35-0 loss, the focus of Thursday’s game wasn’t to earn a victory, but to welcome back the game of rugby and to just get through the first game, which was a crash course in the sport for a number of students who had never played the game before.

Ben Greschner, a grade 11 student at North Peace Secondary who plays the position of fly out for the Roughnecks, said nerves were high before the team’s first ever rugby game, but they used that nervousness to pump themselves up for what would be a much more physical game than any of the players anticipated.

“As a team we didn’t really know what to expect and were kind of nervous, but we used that to pump ourselves up,” he said after the game. “As the game progressed we continued to learn on the fly and eventually started piecing our game together.”

Greschner’s words were an accurate description of the team’s performance, as the Roughnecks looked a bit overwhelmed at the start of the game, which was when the majority of tries were scored by Grande Prairie. However, halfway through the game competition stiffened up on both ends as Fort St. John showed great signs of improvement as the game was much more evenly played and the team spent much less time on the defensive side of the game.

It was a extra special game for the fly out, as his father was a member of the Fort St. John Moosemen, a former Fort St. John men’s rugby team.

Following the game, Greschner says the team wasn’t disappointed with the results, as they didn’t expect to beat the experienced Grande Prairie team. The team left the field with high spirits, congratulating one another, receiving praise from their coaches, and even the opposition.

After the two teams shook hands, Grande Prairie showed respect to the league’s newest team with a loud cheer to show their respects.

Greschner says it felt really good to hear those cheers from the other team, because as the game went on, he said frustration started to build towards Grande Prairie, as it usually does in contact sports. He said it really helped cool the team’s nerves, and was a really classy move on their part. 

The following day does not feel as good for Greschner, who says he is really feeling the effects that the notoriously physical game took on his body. However, bumps and bruises fade, while an athletes’ competitive drive does not.

“I really loved it. It was the first game I ever played and it was great. I can’t wait until our next game.”

The team will have the weekend to recover, then it’s back to the basics as practice resumes next week, with the Roughnecks next home game taking place Thursday, May 10 against Dawson Creek at 5:30 p.m.

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