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Taber Rugby Club travelling to New Zealand

Posted on May 9, 2024 by Taber Times
Times Photo Submitted

By Heather Cameron
Taber Times
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

During the April 23 M.D. of Taber Council Meeting, Jose May Erickson, President of the girl’s Rugby Club in Taber, and three team members, Rihanna Erickson, Maddisen O’Connor, and Abigail Abela, met with Council in search of financial support for their team’s trip to New Zealand that is scheduled to take place from June 29 to July 10.

“For the past three years, we’ve watched the girls play hard, and we decided to do something amazing for them; we decided we were going to do a trip to New Zealand,” said Erickson.

Once the decision was made to go, Erickson says, the team began fundraising through doing odd jobs for farmers, as they did not want to ask businesses for money. Erickson says that the team, which consists of female rugby athletes in grades 10 to 12 from Taber and surrounding areas, worked hard to fundraise by doing various jobs within the community including grading potatoes, husking corn, covering silage, directing parking at Cornstock, cleaning parking lots, cleaning for Cornfest, and catering multiple events to ultimately raise nearly $100,000. Erickson says that the team has reached their financial goal for the trip but are still working to repay the money that they borrowed, and they are almost there.

“This trip is happening because we want to keep rugby alive in our community and knowing that there will be a trip every two to three years will help us gain more players, and it is a privilege to teach young girls that hard work does pay off,” said Erickson. “The funds raised will cover travel expenses, accommodations, tournament registration fees, and other associated costs. We have truly done the impossible with these amazing female young athletes. And words are not enough to express how proud that we are of them. The New Zealand Rugby trip represents not only a sporting event but a cultural exchange and an opportunity for personal and athletic growth for these aspiring athletes. The exposure gained from participating in an international tournament will not only benefit the individuals but also reflect positively on our community as a whole.”

The M.D. Council responded to the Taber Rugby Club’s Council request for support by promoting the team’s need for support on the M.D. of Taber’s social media sites and the support post invites those who want to contribute to the team’s goal to contact Jose Erickson – Rugby Club President at 403-614-0137.

Grant also says that one avenue through which the team is raising funds is the Annual Roadside Cleanup Program. 

“This initiative not only contributes to the beautification of our community but also serves as a platform for organizations to raise much-needed funds,” said Grant. “By participating in this program, the Taber Girls Rugby Team is not only cleaning up our roadsides but also paving the way for their own success. As members of the community, it’s our responsibility to rally behind these remarkable athletes and ensure they have the support they need to soar to new heights. Whether it’s through financial contributions, spreading the word on social media, or simply offering words of encouragement, every act of support makes a difference. The Taber Girls Rugby Team’s journey is not just about sports; it’s about community, unity, and empowerment. It’s about showing our young athletes that we believe in them, that we stand behind them, and that we are willing to invest in their future.”

The Town of Taber, Erickson says, also donated a bunch of pins to the Taber Rugby Team to give to each team they play with, which will put Taber on the map in New Zealand.

Erickson says that while in New Zealand, the Taber Rugby Club will play rugby against three different teams: Auckland – Howick College, Taupo – Taupo-nui-a-Tia College, and Wellington – Wellington Regional Invitational 15. In addition to the games, Erickson says, the team will be going to four different cities, visiting a museum, and participating in other activities.

“New Zealand is the capital of rugby,” said Erickson. “For those unfamiliar with rugby, the New Zealand national Rugby Union team commonly known as the All Blacks is the most amazing thing you will ever watch. And the way they do the haka dance is out of this world. We get to go and have an All Blacks experience and meet with some of them. We get to tour New Zealand, immerse in their amazing culture, and teach them some of ours. We will have an opportunity to watch a national rugby game while we are there. We’re just giving the girls the opportunity to play at an international level, and we get to meet with local coaches and train with them. We will also have a celebrity guest speaker meeting with us. It will be an amazing trip, and by doing so we get to keep rugby alive in our community.”

Erickson emphasizes that the board couldn’t be prouder of the girls for what they have accomplished with making the trip a reality. The board, Erickson says, consists of Jenelle O’Connor, Shayla Anderson, Angela Goertzen, Kristy Johnson, Elizabeth Foote, and Susan Erickson.

“We teach young girls that you can get anything you want in life if you work hard for it,” said Erickson. “That’s what we have been doing since we have created this club and that’s what we’ll continue to do in the future.”

Whether it’s through financial contributions, spreading the word on social media, or simply offering words of encouragement, Grant says, every act of support makes a difference.

“As members of the community, it’s our responsibility to rally behind these remarkable athletes and ensure they have the support they need to soar to new heights,” said Grant. “The Taber Girls Rugby Team serves as a beacon of hope, resilience, and determination. Let’s stand behind our community champions and cheer them on as they embark on this incredible journey to New Zealand. Together, we can make history, and together, we can make our region proud. The Taber Girls Rugby Team has captured the imagination and admiration of our town, not only with their remarkable achievements on the field but also with their unwavering commitment to representing Taber on the global stage.”

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