By Garrett Simmons
Westwind Weekly News
The Raymond Comets senior varsity 15s rugby team has had quite a run.
Raymond has won three of the last four Tier 1 provincial championships, with a silver in 2016 mixed in.
Friday, the quest for another title begins in Lethbridge, as Winston Churchill High School hosts the 2019 ASAA Rugby Provincial Championship.
Raymond enters as the top seed in the south, by virtue of an 80-10 win Monday night over the Lethbridge Collegiate Institute Clippers in the zone final.
“LCI is a little stronger this year,” said Raymond coach Dan Bikman. “They compete until the end of the game, which makes a big difference.”
However, Raymond’s quick-strike ability helped put the game away early, as the Comets built a 50-0 lead at the half.
“We scored a try within the first two minutes, and within the first five minutes, we had three,” said Bikman. “They team is clicking really nicely right now.”
The coach was worried his team might be a little complacent heading into the zone championship game, as the Comets have not had a ton of game action recently. That, coupled with a 14-0 record after an early-season loss to Notre Dame, could have spelled trouble.
“They did it and they played really well,” said Bikman about his team’s play on Monday.
Now, the focus shifts to Friday, as Raymond is set to open provincials with a 1 p.m. game at the Lethbridge Sports Park against the third seed out of Calgary. Bikman expects that opponent will be either Bishop Carroll High School or St. Francis High School, two teams that will not be pushovers.
“I know they both are good enough to score on Notre Dame,” said Bikman. “Calgary always has decent teams that give us good competition.”
Should Raymond win the 1 p.m. game, that would set up the Comets for a 6 p.m. contest, with a trip to Saturday’s 3 p.m. championship game on the line.
Bikman added a slow game schedule the last few weeks means his team in healthy and rested for this weekend.
“We’ve been in preparation and recovery mode,” said the coach, who added practice sessions have been all about ramping up the intensity. “We practise every day. We’ve been increasing our execution and fitness as a team.”
Bikman added late-season practices have also given his team the opportunity to perfect its system.
“We’ve put a system together that suits our team the best,” said Bikman, who added every year, that system changes and adapts to the current season’s roster.
For more information on the 2019 provincial tournament, visit the ASAA website at http://www.asaa.ca.