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Banff rugby boys taking strength, speed to provincials

BANFF ­­– Edmonton is about to have a Bear problem.

The Banff Bears rugby senior rugby boys are heading north to the sevens provincials this week and will go for glory in their first year back since the pandemic.

“It’s just the idea of getting in one more weekend of rugby after two years of no sport; it’s all about playing and having fun,” said head coach Ian Higginbottom.

“We have a lot of strength and speed combo. We don’t have anyone who’s lightning fast and we don’t have anyone who’s a complete tank, but we have a lot of strong, fast boys who are good sevens players and I think they know that.”

The Bears were the runner up at zones, losing 17-0 in the finals to the faster and bigger Highwood Mustangs at Calgary Rugby Union field on May 18.

Although, due to low participation across the province this season, the Bears had an open invitation to provincials in Edmonton on Friday and Saturday (May 27-28).

The Bears went 2-2 at zones, losing twice to the Mustangs.

Offensively and defensively, Banff was brilliant in its other two matches, scoring a combined 78 points over the Oilfields Drillers and Strathmore Spartans, giving up only 14 points.

“A few years of no rugby, we’re lacking some of the fundamentals we normally have,” said Higginbottom. “Usually we have the basic skill and we can work on the finesse part, but at this point of the season we’re still working on some of the fundamentals.”

Banff’s rugby girls were also runners up at sevens zones on May 18.

The team lost 15-5 in the final to the Strathmore Spartans at Calgary Rugby Union.

Looking strong in wins over the Spartans, 32-0, and J.C. Charyk Hawks, 17-5, in round robin action, coach Maya Russow said the girls demonstrated “textbook rugby plays” to earn back-to-back wins en route to the final.

However, the Bears were unable to double-up on Strathmore in the big game after some early injuries.

Bear Breanne Carr scored the team’s lone try in the finals.

The girls were also invited to provincials, but will not attend due to insufficient players.

On Wednesday (June 1), the boys and girls teams are hosting a mini sevens rugby jamboree at the Banff rec grounds. Kick off is at 4:45 p.m.

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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