The fifth head coach of the St. Albert men’s rugby program in five years is stoked by the challenge.
“I’m very excited. I’m looking forward to playing a different style of rugby than maybe St. Albert is used to in the past,” said Jeremy Kyne, a no-nonsense, straight to the point individual who casts a large presence on the pitch.
“We’re going to play an aggressive style of rugby, making decisions and not afraid to run the ball.”
The St. Albert Rugby Football Club welcomed Kyne with open arms after negotiations with Doug Hauff, the leading candidate to replace last year’s head coach, Sam Townsend, hit a snag late last month.
“I worked with a lot of this group in the winter program and really enjoyed the different aspects of their personalities and their playing potential so I thought it was a good opportunity to get out and test my coaching,” said Kyne, who left the Strathcona Druids to restore SARFC’s legacy as a club and a half after the most disappointing season of the men’s program in the SARFC modern era (2007-present).
Kyne, 35, has previous coaching experience with the Lep/Tigers, Druids and Edmonton Gold.
“I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to work with a bunch of guys I haven’t worked with before and stamp my style on the game,” said the product of the Tawa Rugby Club in Wellington, New Zealand who also played for the U20 Hurricanes back home. “I would consider myself more of an attacking coach than a defensive coach. I believe that Alberta defences are not that strong so we can exploit by different styles.”
Kyne, a barrel-chested forward with the Lep/Tigers, Druids and the Calgary-based Prairie Wolf Pack after arriving in Canada in 2005, has played in two test matches for caps with Canada: 2010 against Belgium and 2011 at No. 8 against Japan at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. One of his teammates at the Rugby World Cup was prop Andy Tiedemann of St. Albert.
Kyne was also on the starting lineup for the Druids (7-8) when the Sherwood Park squad rocked SARFC’s world with a mind-boggling 23-13 upset in the Alberta Cup premier north semifinal on the sacred St. Albert pitch.
Three weeks earlier, SARFC (9-5) pummelled the Druids 60-10 at home after losing the previous match 25-17 in Sherwood Park.
If SARFC Is to return to superiority in premier rugby – last year’s playoff loss ended three consecutive Labatt’s Cup and the 2016 provincial crown was the fourth since the first in SARFC history in 2010 – the first 15 have to solve the riddle of the Nor’Westers (13-2), the team to beat as the defending champions while running roughshod over the firsts 57-26 and 51-3 last year.
Obviously, the goal is “to go to provincials,” said Kyne of the firsts, a well as the second division team and the joint SARFC/Druids in the third division of the Edmonton Rugby Union.
“It’s a long season – well, long in terms of weeks but maybe not in terms of games, so we’re taking it a step by step approach trying to build our foundations for a solid program,” said the seventh head coach since SARFC rejoined the Alberta Cup premier ranks after winning the 2007 Lor-Ann Cup as second division provincial champions, sparking a scintillating stretch of eight appearances in the provincial final in nine years by the firsts before last year’s fall from grace.
Last year’s SARFC third division team (8-3) placed first in league play but was gutted 60-14 by the Parkland Sharks (8-5) in the playoff doubleheader at SARFC.
The second division team returns to the ERU for the first time since going 4-5-1 in 2014.
“I have an eye towards developing individuals, especially those guys who are playing on the second division team. To have a strong club and strong future you’ve got to build the second division team so there will be a lot of importance placed on their development and you will see that,” Kyne said. “We’re doing split trainings so more on the skill development with the second division guys, and hopefully that pushes more of the guys playing first division as well.”
SCRUM BALLS: Friday the thirds make their season debut against the LA Crude at 7 p.m. at Ellerslie Rugby Park.
Saturday’s second division home opener against the Nor’Westers starts at 4 p.m.
The SARFC second division women travel to Drayton Valley on Saturday to play the Riggers at 2 p.m.