Familiarity does not necessarily breed contempt.
In fact, the opposite is true with the Lindsay Thurber Raiders girls rugby team.
“It’s a good group. I’ve had some of these kids for four years now,” said Raiders coach Bill Bowd, following his team’s 21-5 win over the Notre Dame Cougars in the Central Alberta High School League final Wednesday at Titans Rugby Park.
“You could see the confidence this year that we didn’t have last year and this is basically the same team expect for four girls. That (familiarity) makes a big difference.”
Emily Newton scored two tries and added three converts for the Raiders, who also got a try from Hope Fulton en route to sustaining an undefeated season and snaring the central zone berth in the provincial tier 1 girls championship June 6-7 at Calgary.
The Raiders were undefeated in league play last year and finished sixth at the provincials. Bowd likes the potential of his current squad, but wasn’t making any predictions regarding this year’s provincial finals.
“It will just depend on who is there,” he said. “We’ve already beat a couple of team from the north this season so that gives us an idea of what we’re looking at. A team like Raymond is always tough and if you’re going to get to the final you know you’re going to have a tough game.”
The Raiders will at least head into the provincials with the knowledge they are clearly the best the central zone has to offer. Thurber was 3-0 against Notre Dame this season, defeating the Cougars 21-7 and 28-0 prior to Wednesday’s winner-take-all outing.
“We were lucky we were able to control them (Cougars) this year and today’s game was the best we’ve played against them,” said Bowd.
Later Wednesday, the Central Alberta champion Rocky Mountain House Rebels rolled over the Hunting Hills Lightning 52-3 in an exhibition game as a tune-up for the provincial tier 2 championship, also June 6-7 in Calgary.
“We were trying to set up different things today . . . trying to see where our mistakes are still sitting as we get ready for provincials,” said Rebels long-time coach Andre Van Zyl, who last led his team to a league title in 2011.
The Rebels were 4-0 in league play this season, posting wins over all three Red Deer teams.
“Yes, that felt very good,” said Van Zyl. “I think the big thing with this team is commitment . . . this is a very committed team and I think that’s what made them so strong. Their commitment was amazing.”
The Rebels placed fourth in the tier 2 provincials last year and Van Zyl hinted that his team can at least match that achievement this time around.
“We’ll see what happens . . . anything can happen at provincials,” he said. “ But this team is better than last year’s team. They know the game and they know the rules and their principles. This team is way more prepared than last year.”
Meanwhile, Lindsay Thurber slipped past Notre Dame 10-7 in a playoff game to determine the central zone tier 1 boys representative at the provincial tournament.
Rimbey downed Lacombe 39-7 to earn the girls central zone tier 2 berth in the provincial championship.