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Banff Bears men’s rugby team claws back to CRU finals

The Banff Bears men’s rugby team is fighting for two championship trophies and provincial honours this weekend.
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The Banff Rugby Club Bears players clap after the game at the Banff Recreation Grounds in June. JUNGMIN HAM RMO PHOTO

BANFF – The Banff Bears men’s rugby team is fighting for two championship trophies and provincial honours this weekend.

The Bears defeated the Calgary Knights 53-12 in their final regular season match to lock up the No. 2 seed and advance to the Division 3 finals against Cochrane’s Bow Valley Grizzlies, Saturday (Sept. 10) at noon at Calgary Rugby Union park.

“Early on, we thought this was going to be the team to beat,” said Bears head coach, Lee Garrett.

“We’ve had that chat at training [about game planning] and it’s very much a let’s be adaptive to what we see on the day. We’ve got a couple plans and it’s definitely let’s see what we get.”

Along with the CRU title, the Division 3 final determines the victor of the inaugural Bears Cup – a friendly mini-series within the season between the two clubs – and the provincial honours, as well.

In years past, the CRU champion went on to face the Edmonton Rugby Union champion to close out the year; however, the province’s other rugby union didn’t have a Division 3 this season.

But the stakes are high – maybe even higher – as Banff matches up against the Grizzlies, their biggest test all season, which will be a fitting conclusion to the 2022 season.

In what was the Bears worst-played match this year, the local team lost to Cochrane, 47-14, in the season opener. The Bears didn't let that slide, though, and got redemption a month later, knocking off the Grizzlies 24-19 at home.

It was the first place Grizzlies' only loss.

The 2022 CRU finals is the first time Banff has reached the city finals since 2018, when they defeated the Calgary Holy Goats, 54-26.

In 2019, the Bears uncharacteristically missed the playoffs, and in 2020 and 2021, didn’t field teams due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“From start of the season to now, it’s night and day, so it’s pretty special to be a part of that for sure. We’ve grown as a group," said Garrett.

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

Jordan Small joined the Outlook in 2014 and covers the vast world of sports in the Bow Valley. A Barrie, Ont. native, he also wrote for RMO's Mountain Guide section and the MD of Bighorn beat.
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