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The first seven-a-side junior high co-ed flag rugby tournament was a smashing success Saturday at the St. Albert Rugby Football Club.

Twelve teams from six schools competed in the event, hosted by the Lorne Akins Gators. The Elmer S. Gish Warriors also participated.

Games were played on a full field with seven-minute halves.

“The action in sevens is more wide open and exciting than the normal 10s game played at this level. Certainly the passing skills, support and defensive skills become more intense as fewer players are available to limit the offensive time and space,” said Lorne Akins coach Roger Scott, a big booster of the greater Edmonton junior high co-ed flag rugby league. “Overall the players commented that they greatly enjoyed the version of the game. Some coaches still had mixed reviews about what type of game best translates into the 15-a-side game played at the high school level. Everyone agreed that the individual and team skills and fitness needed for sevens rugby makes it a fast paced and exciting game.”

Rugby sevens is slated to make its Olympic debut in the next decade.

As for the 10-a-side scene, all the Edmonton and area junior high teams, including the Sir George Simpson Voyageurs, Elmer S. Gish and Lorne Akins, will finish up their league schedule today. The tournament final is Saturday at Ellerslie Rugby Park. Lorne Akins is the defending division I champions.

This year the female ranks of the Gators have been instrumental in several Lorne Akins victories. Last month, an all-girls’ team of Gators scored a convincing 51-5 victory over Nellie McClung School in a flag rugby exhibition in St. Albert. Lorne Akins is the only school in the 10-a-side co-ed league able to field an all-girls team against the all-girls school.

St. Albert rugby players Stacie Becker and Amanda Lalonde were named to the U20 national team for the Nations Cup in England this August.

The Nations Cup is an international women’s rugby series played each summer between the leading northern hemisphere teams. There are separate tournaments for U20 and senior sides.

The high school products of the Sturgeon Spirits made the Canadian roster after strong performances at the recent tryout camp in Toronto.

Lalonde, a high scoring outside centre, has worked hard to improve her evasive running technique and ball handling since her first season of rugby in Grade 12 at Sturgeon. At the U20 camp she scored a pair of tries by beating girls one-on-one. As a pure sprinter with raw rugby skills, she made the U19 Canadian touring side that won three exhibitions in England in 2007.

Becker was a late addition to the U20 tryouts after her summer job fell through. As an unknown at her first camp, the physically imposing prop blew the competition away and actually knocked off one of the props who was on the team for the past two years.

Another St. Albert connection with U20 Canada is Mike Moss. The assistant coach worked primarily with the backs at the camp.

St. Albert Steel centre Scott Elkow has committed to the Neumann Knights for the upcoming season.

The 2009 NCAA Division III champions approached Elkow at the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s showcase tournament last fall. Neumann is a Catholic and Franciscan university located in Aston, Pa.

In his third and final AJHL season, the St. Albert resident recorded 20 goals and 19 assists in 53 games.

Before breaking into the AJHL with the Fort Saskatchewan Traders, the 2007 league finalists, Elkow played two years of midget AAA with the KC Pats after a season with the midget A St. Albert Stallions. In 122 career AJHL games he posted 31 goals, 35 assists and 165 PIM. With the Steel he had 22 goals, 26 assists and 93 PIM in 74 games.

In the Steel’s inaugural 2007/08 season in St. Albert, Elkow missed the first 36 games recovering from rotator cuff surgery to both shoulders.

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St. Albert Gazette

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