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Hard-working Simms, Hiscock lead provincial U16 team into Eastern Canadian championship

Members of Newfoundland and Labrador male under-16 rugby team practice in preparation for the Eastern Canadian Championships at the Swilers Rugby Complex Wednesday. The championships begin Friday at Swilers. — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

Co-captains Riley Simms and David Hiscock are two players the Newfoundland under-16 team will be counting on to be at their best this weekend at the Eastern Canadian rugby championships at the Swilers Complex in St. John’s.

“He has natural leadership qualities,” coach Simon Blanks said of Simms during a team practice at Swilers Complex Wednesday night.

Blanks noted that, in a recent trip to Ottawa where the team played seven games in five days, Simms played every minute of every match and was the only player on tour to do that.

“He’s extremely fit and a really tough kid which is unusual for an outside half,” Blanks added, only half kidding about the position.

Simms, of the Dogs RFC, is a versatile athlete who can play outside half, fullback or centre.

In his second year with the squad, Simms has “pretty high hopes” for his team in the tournament.

“The team is looking better than last year,” he noted.

He said the Ottawa tour really brought the players together this season. The Prince of Wales Collegiate student also praised the coaching staff.

What attracted him to the game is the friendliness of the people and coaches involved.

Hiscock, a back row, is another player who the coaching staff is high on.

Hiscock is a first-year rugby player who has adapted well to the game.

Like Simms, Hiscock is a product of the Dogs RFC. The Bishop’s College student picked up the game when he went to high school. He played soccer, hockey and basketball before taking on his new sport.

“I like the sportsmanship in the game,” said Hiscock about rugby.

“In hockey, if you hit someone, they come back and slash you or try to start a fight. In rugby, if you hit somebody they try to hit you back, but there’s nothing dirty about it.”

Hiscock said he believes his team “has a good shot at making the final if we work hard at it.”

Blanks, who coaches the team along with Bas Crosbie and John Saunders, said of Hiscock: “He might be the heaviest tackling 16-year-old we’ve ever had.”

Blanks added Hiscock is “extremely powerful and a dynamic ball carrier.

“(In) Ottawa, when we were looking for someone when the chips were down, he was the guy who stepped up to the plate and helped turn or fortunes around,” said Blanks.

The Newfoundland U16 teams plays twice Friday. The host team opens against New Brunswick at 2 p.m. at the upper pitch before meeting Prince Edward Island at 6 p.m. at the lower pitch.

jbrowne@thetelegram.com

To view full schedule and results see: easterns.vandalsrugby.ca

Geographic location: Ottawa, Newfoundland, New Brunswick Prince Edward Island

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