Westwind Weekly News
After a perfect regular season, there’s one task left for the Raymond Comets rugby team.
Raymond wrapped up the Tier 1 zone championship Monday night in Lethbridge with a dominating 146-0 win over Lethbridge Collegiate Institute, which should give the Comets the No. 1 ranking in provincials this weekend.
“I just told the girls we practice hard for a reason, so let’s play as clean and organized as we can,” said coach Dan Bikman on his pregame instructions to his team in the zone final. “We focused on that and focused on the little things we can improve as a group.”
Bikman added his team put together a number of highlight-reel tries in the contest, which capped off a perfect regular season, as Raymond did not allow a single point all season, for the first time in the history of the program.
But that accomplishment will be all for naught if the team can’t finish the job this weekend at the Alberta Schools Athletic Association Tier 1 Girls Championship, which begins Friday morning in Calgary.
“The focus is to make the most of the opportunity in front of us, which is to win a provincial title. The danger is to take the opportunity lightly and not take the situation seriously enough and have a game slip out from under us.”
That quest begins Friday at 11:30 a.m. at the Calgary Rugby Union facility at 9025 Shepard Road Southeast, against the No. 8 ranked team in Alberta.
“I’m guessing we’ll come in as the No. 1 seed, and usually it’s a team out of the north that comes in No. 8, or it’s a backdoor entry out of Calgary,” said Bikman, as he attempted to predict his team’s first-round match.
The coach added he does expect a challenge from Edmonton’s Bev Facey, Calgary’s Western Canada and the Edmonton-area team Sturgeon Composite.
“Bev Facey won the city championship, even though they finished third in the league,” said Bikman.
The Comets and Bev Facey have met for the last three provincial titles, as Raymond won in 2015, Facey claimed top spot in 2016 and the Comets earned gold in 2017.
“They’re good,” said Bikman, who noted last year represents a cautionary tale for his team, as Raymond defeated Facey 60-0 in tournament play, and earned a hard-fought 20-5 win in the provincial final later in the season.
“I think they have a different philosophy in how they approach the regular season and how they prepare their team,” said Bikman, who noted Facey always makes a late-season surge.
Raymond will need three wins to claim the Tier 1 title, as Friday morning’s game will be followed up with an afternoon game later that day at 3:40 p.m. A win in that game will push the Comets to the provincial final, set for Saturday at 12:45 p.m.
This year, the Calgary Rugby Union will play to all six provincial rugby tournaments, from Tier 3 boys and girls all the way to Tier 1. Bikman added that should make for an incredible atmosphere all weekend long.
“We’re excited. We feel good, we’ve tried our best and if there’s a team out there that beats our best game, we’ll tip our hat to them.”