Local high-school rugby supremacy was decided at the Rocky View Sports Association’s (RVSA) annual rugby sevens tournament, held June 4 at Bow Valley High School in Cochrane.
The Springbank Phoenix defended its 2018 crown in the senior boys’ category, while the Chestermere Lakers dominated the senior girls’ division to claim the RVSA title.
The Lakers went unbeaten throughout the day, overcoming the Bobcats 27-10, the Cavaliers 22-10, the Phoenix 29-19 and the George McDougall Mustangs 17-10 in the preliminary rounds.
Chestermere’s defence was a wall throughout the next two games, denying any points against. The team’s semi-final victory was a 34-0 blowout against the Cavaliers, and the Lakers sealed the championship with a 15-0 blanking of Springbank in the gold-medal game.
According to one of the team’s coaches, Corey Derkatch, the athleticism of senior Mackenzie Georgsen was a key factor in the success.
“She has a soccer scholarship to attend SAIT next year, so we’re going to be losing her,” Derkatch said. “Ever since she started playing rugby, she’s been a tank.”
Chestermere’s team was prepared for the divisional championships, according to Derkatch, after participating in three tournaments in May. The Lakers started its 2019 season with a trip north to play in the Jasper Sevens Rugby Tournament May 4, before competing May 11 at the Clearwater Cup in Calgary and May 22 at West Island College’s annual rugby sevens tournament.
“We decided about three years ago to only do tournaments,” Derkatch said. “One of the main reasons was because of player turnout.”
With the RVSA championship done and dusted, the Lakers vied for tries at one more tournament – the Westmount School Sevens Invitational, held June 7 (after press time) at the Inland Athletic Park in northwest Calgary.
Dominique McCullough, teacher-sponsor for the Springbank Phoenix boys’ rugby team, said she was proud to see the squad’s 2019 season culminate with a gold medal at the tournament, after Springbank lost in the semi-final of the Big Sky high school rugby league the week before.
“They’ve been training really hard and playing 15s games where they played the whole game without any subs,” she said. “That prepared them really well for the sevens games, because they knew they could run like crazy for both halves and have no problems.
“Endurance-wise, they were really strong, and getting some really spectacular tries and runs.”
Springbank booked its ticket to the final with a 41-0 thumping over the W.H. Croxford Cavaliers, a 24-5 victory against the Bow Valley Bobcats and a 19-5 win over the Lakers. Since W.H. Croxford forfeited the semi-final, the Phoenix had a short rest before the gold-medal game.
The rest proved beneficial, as the team came through with a 19-12 triumph against the Bobcats in the final game.
According to McCullough, the games against Bow Valley – runner-up in the Big Sky this year – were the difference-makers.
“We were actually a little concerned going into our first game against them because they were sort of the team to beat,” she said. “Going into the first game, we were able to dig deep and come out with a win.
“To play them again in the final was really fun, because we knew they were a strong team. We had to step up our game and play a strong running game.”