Keepa making an impact with Titans

Red Deer Titans Rugby Club new head coach John Keepa has an interesting philosophy when it comes to coaching rugby.

Red Deer Titans Rugby Club new coach John Keepa instructs

Red Deer Titans Rugby Club new coach John Keepa instructs

Red Deer Titans Rugby Club new head coach John Keepa has an interesting philosophy when it comes to coaching rugby.

The 49-year-old native of New Zealand believes you take bits and pieces from a number of sports and apply them to rugby when building a program.

“What I do when I’m training is take the techniques from a number of sports and apply them to rugby,” he said. “Even cheerleading. When I was coaching girls in the States I mentioned that the lifting in cheerleading helps in line-outs in rugby.

“Sumo wrestling, for example, is good for being strong in close contact. Every sport has something to give and visa versa.”

He also believes that just because he’s from New Zealand that he doesn’t have to teach strictly ideas from his home country.

“Not at all,” he said. “I believe you can take the strengths from a number of countries like the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia and use them in your training.”

Keepa is from the North Island in New Zealand and grew up playing a number of sports, but admits rugby was always in his blood. He is a qualified personal trainer and got into coaching “four or five” years ago.

“I come from a fitness background and advanced to the technical side,” he explained.

“But I’ve always been involved in the sport in one way or another from playing to management to coaching.”

A year ago he decided to take to the road and worked with a number of programs in the United States. He was with a university in Nashville, Tenn., when he first made a trip to Red Deer.

“I was in contact with Red Deer off and on and they offered me an opportunity to run a clinic in February and it just progressed from there,” said Keepa, who is interested in working with more non-rugby countries, such as Canada and the United States.

“I see both countries as being real sleepers when it comes to the sport,” he said. “Both are very competitive and have a lot of talent and knowledge.”

Keepa was definitely impressed with the Titans facilities.

“The city of Red Deer should be proud,” he said. “It’s an outstanding facility with two fields and a club house.”

Keepa arrived in Red Deer last week and will coach the men’s first and third division teams and work with the women’s program if needed.

“I don’t consider the men as first and third division teams rather an A team and a developmental team,” said Keepa. “I think the players should have the flexibility to change teams if need be. I also believe both teams should run the same systems so there is no change if players move up or down. As well it would be great if the women has the same system as well.”

The women’s team, which plays in the premier division, is coached by Bill Bowd.

Keepa is still learning the names and positions of the players, but that may be good he says.

“I can come in and make a decision on where they fit the best. Maybe it will be different than where they played before, who knows. It’s not a personal thing but a logical decision.”

Keepa will get a chance to see the men’s teams in action Saturday as they open league play in Calgary against the Canucks.

The women see their first action May 9 in Edmonton against the Druids.

The Titans first division team opens at home May 23 against St. Albert while the women play at home May 30 against the Rockers.

Contact Danny Rode at drode@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Erika Fetterly, owner of EFP Studios, recently launched the Let Them Have A Voice campaign. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta photographer’s campaign aims to give youths a voice

An Innisfail photographer is giving a platform to young central Albertans so… Continue reading

Chopped Canada-winning chef Pete Sok is trying to focus on the future as he reopens Boulevard Restaurant and Lounge in the Holiday Inn on Gasoline Alley during the pandemic. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer’s celebrity chef looks past the pandemic with new restaurant opportunity

Pete Sok is reopening Boulevard Restaurant — and betting on the future

The Red Deer Rebels hosted the Medicine Hat Tigers in the first game of the shortened 2020-21 season on Friday. The two teams faced off again in Medicine Hat Saturday (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Red Deer Rebels fall to Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday

Tigers 7 Rebels 2 The Red Deer Rebels have lost two straight… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Premier slams vandalism after slur painted on MLA’s office window

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is condemning alleged vandalism at the… Continue reading

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Machin waits to appear at the Standing Committee on Finance on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 1, 2016. Executives who engage in so-called "vaccine tourism" show both an ethical disregard for those less fortunate and a surprising lack of business acumen, experts argue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine tourism is both unethical and bad for business, experts say

Executives who engage in so-called “vaccine tourism” show both an ethical disregard… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Jesse Puljujarvi (13) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Justin Holl (3) battle in front as goalie Jack Campbell (36) makes the save during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, February 27, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
No Matthews, no problem: Minus NHL goal leader, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 4-0

Leafs 4 Oilers 0 EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs knew even with… Continue reading

Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Pablo Rodriguez rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Gummed-up bills in House of Commons: harbinger of a federal election?

OTTAWA — All federal party leaders maintain they don’t want an election… Continue reading

The Pornhub website is shown on a computer screen in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Pornhub policies reveal legal gaps and lack of enforcement around exploitive videos

OTTAWA — Serena Fleites was in seventh grade when a sexually explicit… Continue reading

Sean Hoskin stands on a neighbourhood street in Halifax on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Hoskin was diagnosed with COVID-19 almost a year ago with symptoms that still persist. Some provinces have established programs to deal with long-term sufferers but Atlantic Canada, with relatively low numbers of patients, has yet to provide a resource to assist them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
On East Coast, exhausted COVID-19 ‘long haulers’ hope specialized clinics will emerge

HALIFAX — On evenings when Sean Hoskin collapses into bed, heart pounding… Continue reading

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (30) stands in his crease as Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane (88), left to right, defenceman Rasmus Andersson (4), Matthew Tkachuk (19), Mikael Backlund (11) and Mark Giordano (5) celebrate a goal during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Calgary Flames beat Ottawa 6-3 to end Senators’ three-game win streak

Flames 6 Senators 3 OTTAWA — The Calgary Flames used a balanced… Continue reading

Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on November 19, 2020. The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because of death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Death certificates don’t accurately reflect the toll of the pandemic, experts say

The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection… Continue reading

Most Read