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Rugby Rebels still searching for their first win early in spring

Posted on May 4, 2023 by Taber Times

By Cole Parkinson

For Taber Times

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

It’s been tough sledding so far for the W.R. Myers girls’ SV rugby team. With a handful of games under their belt, the team is still searching for their first victory of the season. Despite the lack of wins, the coaches and players have seen some good play and they’re just waiting for everything to click into place.

“Unfortunately, we have not won a game yet. I’m very hopeful for this Wednesday. I have a good feeling that this will be the game to break our unfortunate streak,” stated coach Shayla Anderson.

While the senior squad hasn’t been able to secure a win yet, the JV squad has been dominant. The team has been able to rack up tons of wins early in the spring.

“The JV team has had great success. I believe they have won all their league games. They are such an ambitious group of girls that are coachable and eager to play. I am very excited in a couple of years when they are in SV,” continued Anderson. “Not playing for two years during Covid has slowed the program down a little bit. Experience is a very important aspect of rugby. It is just such a different game than what they are used to. It takes a couple of years to understand the game fully. Once you understand the game, that’s when we can take it up a notch and teach them the more technical aspects of the game that will lead us to great success.”

Now, the senior squad hopes to replicate that success. The coaches have been encouraged by the group’s persistence on the pitch and willingness to try new things.

“We have had to do a bit of shuffling around with girls in positions. They have always been cooperative and patient with myself and coach Ben (Foote) as we try to figure out the best spot for everyone. A couple of girls who I wasn’t expecting to step up, have completely surprised me, and have been killing it on the field,” added Anderson. 

But with games left on the schedule, the coaches are hoping to continue to see improvement from all of the players. The good news is the lineup seems to be set and players have been slotted into positions that will help not only themselves succeed, but also the team.

“I think we have finally figured out the best place for everyone. Rugby is such a short season and starts full swing as soon as basketball ends. This year it has taken us a little bit longer to find the best fit for everyone. We really have to see the girls in game play to see if that position is a great fit. Their fitness is improving and their understanding of the game is clicking. I strongly believe by the end of the season we will be ready for provincials,” said Anderson. “Today (May 1) after practice as I was talking to coach Ben Foote, we both said that finally, we were starting to look like the team we were wanting to be.”

The coaches are also incredibly happy with how the team has gelled in such a short amount of time. With the season being so short, having the team connect on and off the field is huge. There have been no issues about that for the Rebels this season.

“This is such a great bunch of girls, they all get along great. In rugby, there are no timeouts. We get to talk to the girls before the game, at the half, and occasionally we get to send messages via the other girls running water on the field. We have two captains, Jenna Bailey (Grade 12) and Madi O’Conner (Grade 11). They are in charge of the game during play. They make the calls, talk to the ref if need be, and are essentially the coaches on the field,” explained Anderson. “They have done a wonderful job of being leaders the girls can follow. They’re positive, strong, and great at leading the team. Because we have such little contact with the girls during the game, it is very important for the girls to get along and trust that every player is going to do their job and to believe in their captains.”

Coming up in the second weekend of the month is the team’s first tournament. The team is excited to hit the road and compete in a tournament that Myers has had success at in the past with hopes of duplicating.

“The Cougar Classic is always such an amazing tournament. It is full of strong teams from around the province. The last few years we have made it to the finals, and I am very hopeful it will be the same this year. The girls have such a fun time travelling and playing different teams. It’s always such a fun weekend, and an amazing team-bonding experience,” stated Anderson. “Playing three games in such a short amount of time is a huge advantage. It gives us the opportunity to work on our weaknesses from the previous game while it’s still fresh in their minds. We always leave a stronger team than when we arrived.”

The SV team takes on Medicine Hat High in Taber tonight at 5:30 p.m. 

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