By Garrett Simmons
Westwind Weekly News
You can chalk up another provincial title for the Raymond Comets high school girls rugby program.
Last weekend, the 7s team took home the championship after a decisive 27-5 win over McNally.
“It doesn’t get old,” said Comets coach Dan Bikman, as Raymond added to an already-impressive rugby trophy case.
But this win was a little different for Raymond, a team that has grown accustomed to simply dominating opponents week in and week out.
In this tournament, the Comets faced a little adversity, as Bikman’s outfit failed to win its pool after a 32-5 win over Lillian Osborne and a tough 33-10 loss to McNally.
The pool-play loss to McNally was much closer than the final indicated, as both teams traded scores in the first half before Raymond fell behind by nine at the half.
Raymond had a breakaway run early on the second half and looked poised to narrow the gap. But the Comets player was tackled, and when she looked back for a teammate to pass to, no one was available. That proved to be the turning point.
“They scored right away after that,” said Bikman. “Our kids just kind of shut down and didn’t do anything you need to do to win a rugby game.”
That led to the team holding a little mini practice between pool play and the playoff round, where the coaching staff emphasized the importance of playing better defence. The extra session also helped the team gain a little perspective.
“We win a lot and win by some huge margins,” said Bikman. “It’s hard when you always win by 20-50 and all of the sudden you meet a very equal opponent.”
McNally definitely proved to be a worthy opponent, with size, savvy and a number of seniors that matched up well physically with a much-younger Raymond roster.
Memorial, the team’s semifinal opponent, also proved to be a challenge, as the Comets rallied for a 22-5 win.
“They were a very strong, big team,” said Bikman, of the Memorial team that won its pool. “They had a good kicking game and had big kids but our intensity and ability to work as hard as possible made it difficult for them to move the ball.”
As well as Raymond played in the semis, the team dialed it up for the final against McNally.
“The kids were super excited and up for their opponent and for redemption,” said Bikman, whose team delivered when it mattered most in the playoff rounds. “They came out and played 10 out of 10 both games and left no doubt they were the best team.”
Now, with the 7s title out of the way, Raymond shifts attend to 15s competition, where the Comets will take on the winner of Lethbridge Collegiate Institute and Medicine Hat High School in next Monday’s zone final.
After that, the team will be off to provincials the following weekend in Calgary.