By Adam Eisenbarth
Going into provincials, the Rimbey Spartans rugby team was looking to rid their bronze reputation and reach the gold medal game.
It wasn’t to be however, but the high school team continued to prove they belong, picking up yet another bronze medal — their fifth in six years.
While the Spartans aimed to improve, the accomplishment was nothing to hang their heads about, says coach Ceara Newman. “We lost 12 girls last year but we still came back and won bronze. That says a lot for the girls that came up.”
The team opened provincials in Lethbridge June 11 against Chestermere, a familiar foe.
“We’ve played them the last four years for bronze.”
Rimbey has been on the winning side against Chestermere in the past and edged out a 10-5 victory.
“It was pretty close and it was a really good game. It was actually a pretty clean game, which I was surprised about,” Newman said.
The win set Rimbey up to face Fort Macleod, a challenging task.
“It’s hard playing those teams from the south because their rugby programs have been going since before I was born. Their coach has been coaching since 1984.”
Fort Macleod was just too strong, as they jumped out to an early lead and coasted to a 22-10 victory, en route to a silver medal this year.
“We did not play very well. I think the girls were really disappointed because we weren’t playing our top game. (Fort Macleod) got two tries really fast and the girls just kind of got frustrated and couldn’t get rolling,” Newman said. “Towards the end they held their own.”
It was an abrupt end to the team’s gold medal run after a dominant season. Their business wasn’t finished however, as they matched up against Leduc for the bronze medal game.
“It was neck to neck the whole game. We got a try, they came back with a try.”
It was the foot of Rebecca Olsen that clinched the game as her penalty kick was the difference in the 8-5 performance.
“It was really really close and the girls played well,” Newman said.
The Spartans motor never seemed to give out all season, but the same could not be said for their bus.
“It broke down Thursday night on the way to provincials and we actually had to call Notre Dame and they came and picked us up off the highway.”
Overall, the bus issues and the powerhouse Fort Macleod team weren’t enough to ruin the weekend for the rugby squad, Newman said. “I think even if we had lost everything we’d still be happy that we went because it’s so much fun.”
Sidney Jones, Kathryn Lynn, Lauren McMurray and Melissa Felder have completed their journey as Rimbey Spartans, and while Newman says it’s sad to see the seniors go, she hopes to see them again soon.
“A lot of times they come back and help coach so hopefully it’s not the last we see of them.”
Once again the Spartans will look to take that leap from bronze to the gold medal game, something Newman is confident about for next year.
“We’re only losing four girls. We’re losing some really key players though. They’re key players but we’ve got a lot of talent coming up to fill those spots so I’m hoping next year should be another strong year.”