With spring high school sports back in action across the region now, the Elmira District Secondary School girls’ rugby teams hit the turf for their first games this week.
The senior team lost in a close game against Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute on Monday at University Stadium in Waterloo. The junior team tied.
“I think both teams played well. We had lots of injuries, so that didn’t help in the game. And our MVP from last year had a concussion from hockey, so that didn’t help,” said girls’ rugby coach Matt Bauman.
Many of the senior players from last year’s team graduated, so this year they have a developing team.
“I had a lot of Grade 9s playing against Grade 12s. They’ll learn fast, that’s for sure. It’s a young team,” Bauman added.
They placed second in their division last year. They beat Eastwood Collegiate Institute in the first round and then lost to Kitchener Collegiate Institute, who ended up going on to the provincial level, OFSAA.
He says the EDSS girls’ rugby team is generally one of the weaker teams in the league, but last year was the best season they’ve had in many years.
“I’ve been coaching, this is my fifth year, and so it’s been a whole group of girls that went through together. So they were just used to playing together for a long time. So it’s lots of potential this year for future years,” Bauman said.
Unlike sports like hockey and soccer, the players on the team don’t play rugby competitively outside of high school. Instead they play other sports.
He says one of the appeals for girls to play rugby is it’s a contact sport.
“I think that’s why rugby is growing so quickly in Canada. Actually female rugby is growing faster than male rugby. It’s a contact sport and it’s not as expensive as some other contact sports, so I think that helps too. And it’s unique, it’s unusual. I think that’s the other part of it,” Bauman said.
The goal this year is to win as many games as they lose. He says that would be a great achievement for a developing team. He’d also be happy if they made it to the top three or four in their division.
“They are a really nice group of girls. They’re more concerned about having fun than about winning. It makes it great for me to coach. My life is pretty busy this year, but I wanted to keep coaching them just because they’re such a great group,” Bauman said.
They played against Jacob Hespeler Secondary School on Wednesday afternoon. The score was not available before press time. Their next game is Apr.18 at 12 p.m. at University Stadium in Waterloo against Grand River Collegiate Institute.