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HCHS girls rugby turning heads

Tyler Waugh Photo

Tyler Waugh

The Harry Collinge Rockies senior girls 7s rugby squad may be few in numbers, but they’re wracking up some impressive results as they build towards a potential run at the zone championships next week.

Coach Rebecca Turnbull says the zones, tentatively slated for May 27 in either Drayton Valley or Thorsby, marks the first time that 7s rugby has had an Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association (ASAA) championship.

“We’ve had a very successful season so far, and we’re looking forward to zones in a little over a week,” said Turnbull on May 15.

“The team that wins that championship has a berth in the ASAA provincial championship for the sport!”

Turnbull said the senior girls team is full of veterans with few new players. The roster consists of Myya Ammann, Alissa Belcourt, Kara Danis, Kaity Fofonoff, Karissa Lee, Kayla Norris-Gauthier, Shelby Poppe, Micah Scott and Lila Underwood.

“Despite the small numbers – there are only nine girls on the team out of a possible 15 – their experience means that they perform very well under pressure,” said Turnbull. “Their fitness levels allow them to play most of the game without needing to be subbed off, which is absolutely necessary, since we only have two sub players.”

The squad’s first tournament May 3 in Jasper saw them place second overall after losing a hard- fought final against a team from Chestermere that was decided by a late score.

“They lost based on conversions after the try, so it was a very close game,” Turnbull said.

Hinton traveled to Drayton Valley the following weekend and opened with a rough start against the hosts.

“That game was a lopsided loss for the girls, and we spent the short break we had between games working out some of the reasons for the loss and how to do better next game,” Turnbull said.

The talk seemed to work as the squad won its next two games against John Maland High School and Spruce Grove Composite High School. As a result of these wins, they got to play in the first place final where they met the same Frank Maddock team from their first game of the day.

The Rockies were down 10-0 at the half, but they were committed to keeping it together and putting up a fight. Kara Danis scored a try with a successful conversion about four minutes into the seven-minute half.

Turnbull said the team had to fight hard to get the ball back, but they managed to win the ball back and Karissa Lee scored the winning try with a successful conversion as the last play of the game.

“The girls were elated with the victory, as it marks the first time that the Rockies have ever won against a Frank Maddock Sr. team,” Turnbull said of the win.

The squad’s performance earned players a little outside attention as well as a representative from Rugby Alberta after the game to make sure we were aware of the tryout process for the Edmonton Gold team, which is the first step in moving up to play with more advanced teams.

“They had identified a few of our players who were of interest but indicated that the whole team should apply if they wish,” Turnbull said. “I think it’s a great sign that Rugby Alberta is being proactive about making sure they see some of the small communities play as well as the larger cities, as there is a lot of talent in the province outside of the city limits.”