HS rugby hits the pitch

The girls’ side of the Central Alberta Rugby League continues to outdraw the boys. The league will field six girls’ teams and five boys’ squads for the 2009 season, which got underway Wednesday at Titans Park.

Lindsay Thurber Raider Tannis Kaun tackles Hunting Hills Lightning Ashley Schwarz during high school rugby action at Titans Park on Wednesday. The Raider girls won 34-7 to take the opener.

The girls’ side of the Central Alberta Rugby League continues to outdraw the boys.

The league will field six girls’ teams and five boys’ squads for the 2009 season, which got underway Wednesday at Titans Park.

The three Red Deer schools — Lindsay Thurber, Notre Dame and Hunting Hills — West Central of Rocky Mountain House, Rimbey and Olds are entered in the girls’ division with the three Red Deer teams along with Rocky and Alix-Bashaw on the boys’ side.

“I always played competitive soccer, so rugby was something different,” said league president Anita LaRose, who teaches at Camille J. Lerouge. “It’s a great team sport and it really doesn’t matter what size or sharp you are it’s a game where all different type of individuals can play.

“There’s also a physical aspect to it and with a lot more girls playing hockey it’s something they enjoy,” added LaRose. “But it’s also not a tough sport to learn.”

LaRose admits there’s always a little nerves associated with the sport, especially for the younger athletes when they first come out.

“The Grade 10s are a little nervous, but once they start playing and find out how exciting the sport is they’re hooked.”

By next spring the league will likely have grown by one with Drayton Valley interested in joining. In fact they wanted to come in this year and will play some exhibition games on the boys’ side.

“They made their application after the annual general meeting, so the decision to allow them in this year was postponed,” explained LaRose. “The biggest concern is the travel. It takes close to three hours to get there and some teams don’t want that much travel time. We’ll discus it and see how we can work things out for next year.”

Even with Drayton Valley coming in, LaRose would like to see more boys’ teams.

“We’re trying to promote the sport as much as possible, but with volleyball being so popular and with lacrosse and other spring sports there’s a lot of demand for players.”

One way they’re trying to develop more players and interest in rugby is running seven a-side league each Monday at Titans Park.

The league is generally for Grade 8 and 9 students from Central Alberta who want to learn the game and prepare to make the high school teams.

“The younger kids aren’t allowed to play 15 a-side against the older kids, but this gives them a chance to learn the fundamentals of the game and to come out for a fun evening,” added LaRose.

The high school coaches handle the coaching duties for the seven a-side games. The majority of the players are from the schools with high school teams, but it’s open to any interested player.

“As long as they’re registered with Rugby Canada for insurance purposes they can come out and join a team. In fact we encourage it,” said LaRose.

The Central Alberta League runs to the end of May with the playoffs set for June 3 at Titans Park.

Teams are divided into two tiers in the playoffs for provincial purposes.

The three Red Deer schools compete in Tier I with the others in Tier II. Olds competes in the South Central zone when it comes to provincials, which will be held in early June in Ellersley.

Last year the Notre Dame girls captured bronze at the provincials, which is a credit to their program, said LaRose.

“Considering we have such a short season here compared to the southern teams, it was a great accomplishment for them,” she said.

l The Lindsay Thurber Raiders took both ends of a Central Alberta High School Rugby League doubleheader from the Hunting Hills Lightning Wednesday at Titans Park, winning the boys’ contest 22-0 and the girls’ game 34-7.

Karl Hoehne had two tries for the boys’ edition of the Raiders with Grady Bowd adding a try and a convert and Ian Mahood a try. Breanna Beck led the Lindsay Thurber girls with two tries and two converts while Jenn Peturson added a pair of tries and Jodyn Hansen and Tannis Kaun one try each. Dacey Livingstone had a try for the Lightning.

drode@bprda.wpengine.com

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