Top rugby players in Maritimes competing on P.E.I.

The Island's top rugby teams compete for the Maritime championships at home this weekend.

Success shows how far Mudmen have come over the years

The Charlottetown Mudmen are hoping to win two Maritime championships on Saturday. (Lucille Carter)

Not long ago, the P.E.I. Mudmen barely had enough players for a rugby game.

On Saturday, they have a chance to become the top club in the Maritimes when they host the Caledonia Cup at UPEI.

"To get where we are now, it's unbelievable," said Rob Carter, a longtime player who now has two sons on the club.

As winners of the Nova Scotia league, the Mudmen will be competing for both the Division 1 and Division 2 titles. It's the first time P.E.I. has hosted the Division 1 Maritime Rugby Championship.

It'll be a full day of rugby.

Longtime Mudmen player Rob Carter with his sons Keegan, left, and Liam. (Lucille Carter)

The action starts at noon when the Division 2 Mudmen take on the Moncton Black Tide for the Wheaton Cup. At 2 p.m., the UPEI women's team plays Saint Mary's. At 4 p.m. the Mudmen Division 1 team battles the Fredericton Loyalists for the Caledonia Cup.

The Mudmen teams have come a long way from 12 years ago when they were lucky to get a couple carloads of players to travel to games in Halifax, said Mudmen president and player Phil Gallant.

'Hurting for a lot of years'

"We were really hurting for a lot of years, where we'd have probably seven or eight guys at practice. You would see us practising up by that old football field that was beside the Subway on University Avenue on uneven ground."

Gallant said the team realized it had to start recruiting younger players. Saturday, fans can see just how far the sport, and skill level, has grown on P.E.I.

"It's the highest-calibre rugby you can see in Atlantic Canada," Gallant said.

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With files from Island Morning