Strathmore High School’s (SHS) girls rugby team has returned from their zone tournament on May 20-21 as the South Central Zone Rugby 7s Champions.
Jerry Flaws, SHS athletic director said the zone tournament in the 7s division was a first for the school and was excited to bring home the win, particularly after such a short play season.
SHS typically competes in the 15s category, which refers to the number of players from either team on the field at any given time, being 15 players playing on each side.
Flaws said this year it was a bit of a challenge to get enough players out to be able to play.
“Basically, we were trying to get enough girls out to play a full squad game, which is 15 a side. We were struggling with numbers so we played some games and some teams leant us some players just so that we could play some full squad stuff,” said Flaws. “We made the decision a couple of weeks before zones that we just play seven a side rugby, because we had enough girls for that.”
Prior to the zone tournament, SHS participated in one exhibition game and proceeded to win two out the three games they played at zones, netting them the championship.
“It was completely unexpected. We’ve never played 7s here, we have always played 15 a side. Two years of not having rugby, our numbers dwindled too much and just couldn’t pull off a full squad game this year,” said Flaws. “I like the 15 a side because then everybody who comes out, there is a spot for them to play. With seven’s, it tends to be a lot more exclusive because you have to be super fit and super fast for it to work.”
Flaws said during the zone tournament, the first team SHS squared off against was from Hanna and the game was a close call with SHS emerging victorious 25-20.
“When we played Banff in the round-robin game, we ended up losing 32-5, and then we played them again in the final and we beat them 25-0,” said Flaws who added that the 7s format is something that has been slowly growing in popularity due to being a smaller and quicker game than 15s.
SHS does not usually opt to play 7s because if they qualify for provincials, the tournament lands at the same time they hold their graduation. The same was true for this year and although the team qualified to attend the Rugby 7s Provincials on May 28-29, the team was unable to attend as the dates conflicted with SHS’s scheduled graduation ceremonies.
“That’s why we normally play 15-aside, because we know that 7s (aligns with) grad. That’s another reason why we push for 15, so if we qualify (for provincials), we can go,” said Flaws hoping that they can build the team again next year to once again play in the 15s category.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times