Wanderers Grounds packed for Canada-US mens rugby test match

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Wanderers Grounds packed for Canada-US mens rugby test match

Canada may have lost to the U.S. 42-17 during the mens rugby test match in Halifax Saturday afternoon, but the game was a win for the city and organizers of the event.

About 6,000 people were expected to show up to the field to see the sold out game. It marked the first major event to take place at the grounds since the city revamped it. 

Tim Powers, chair of Rugby Canada, said it was the "best stadium we've been in all summer."

"It's fantastic. This is the game we were looking forward to all summer because we know Halifax has a great vibe, we knew the first international test match in Halifax would be outstanding," said Tim Powers, chairman of Rugby Canada.

Before the game started, a moment of silence was held for Brodie McCarthy of Montague, P.E.I. McCarthy, a Grade 12 student, died after he suffered a head injury during a school rugby game in May.

When asked whether he thought the crowds in Halifax were drawn to the game because of the Canada-US rivalry or a love of rugby, Powers said the city itself was a huge draw.

"I think it's a great destination city, you're a city that supports international events, you have one of the best rugby communities in Halifax. We might come back again — so far so good, this is a city we'd like to play more games in," said Powers.

Maria MacIntyre brought her best friend Lauren Naugle to the game. The Dartmouth woman said wanted to see the game because she played rugby in high school and university.

"I think it's pretty cool, it was a lot bigger than I expected it to be," MacIntyre said.

Brandon Horne, a rugby player from Enfield, N.S., said the sold out game showed there is major interest in the sport in Nova Scotia.

"You just want to be part of something in the Maritimes. I think this is just a great event and a great thing to showcase what Halifax can do as far as sports are concerned," Horne said.

Bethany Toczko plays for the Halifax Tars, an adult rugby team. She said a love of the sport is what attracted the spectators.

"Everyone is coming down from all the Maritimes just to come down to Halifax just to watch the game. It doesn't matter really whose playing, it's just the event," Toczko said.

Powers said professional rugby is emerging in North America and that Halifax would be a good spot for a pro team.

"You, in Halifax, have a professional soccer team, you're trying to get a CFL team, maybe in the future this would be a great place to put a professional rugby team. I know a few people in the community who could do a great job," Powers said.

Read more stories at CBC Nova Scotia