42 rugby teams from 5 provinces compete in Rothesay at RugbyFest

High school rugby teams from five provinces will compete at Rothesay Netherwood School today during the 28th annual RugbyFest weekend, which will feature a new rugby sevens division.

Sevens is a much faster-paced game, said Geoffrey McCullogh, athletic director at RNS, and RugbyFest organizer.

Seven players per team play seven-minute halves instead of the usual 15 players playing 40-minute halves.

"The Olympics opened it last year as an exhibition sport [and] it sort of caught on a little bit with New Brunswick, and so we thought it would be a great opportunity for us to showcase the sevens with the other … teams that are here to just see what it's like," said McCullogh.

It's a "much more wide open game and more scoring," he said. And because there are fewer athletes on the pitch, there are fewer collisions.

Forty-two boys and girls teams from schools across New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Ontario are participating in the tournament.

"It's a wonderful experience — something you have to attend to understand it," said McCullogh.

Teachers and students volunteer at the event, proud to "show off" the school, he said, and it's a "big boost" for the economy, with athletes, coaches and others eating at restaurants and staying at hotels in Saint John and the Kennebecasis Valley.

Round-robin play begins at 1 p.m. today. Championship games will be begin at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.

All games will be held on the school's five playing fields on campus.