Friday afternoon St. Albert played host to the Canadian women’s rugby team for a practice before they went on to their last game of the Women’s Super Series tournament.
Canada was coming off a devastating loss on Canada Day against the American team and was hoping to rebound with a win against England with the help of the St. Albert Rugby Football Association.
After the practice the rugby club filled the ladies up with a dinner made by its senior members. During each of their stops on the tournament the team practised at a local club in the host community.
“Any time that we can interact with the community it’s a good thing for our program,” Colette Mcauley, assistant coach, said. “Its great to get to know the public and generate some interest in women’s rugby and get more fans.”
It wasn’t just the local interest from fans that made an impact on the team. The women were impressed by the St. Albert rugby facilities and the respect they received by the host community.
“This is the first time I have been here and this is absolutely beautiful. The clubhouse is beautiful the fields are impeccable so it makes practising better when the facilities are great. You really feel a professional side,” Mcauley said.
The St. Albert Rugby Football Association is not new to hosting national and international rugby events. During the 2006 Rugby Women’s World Cup and the 2004 National Championship for Canadian Rugby games were hosted in St. Albert where spectators got to enjoy some elite competition.
Members of the St. Albert rugby club watched the practise and were happy to see some national talent again. Terry MacPherson, event co-ordinator, was optimistic it would help generate more interest in the sport locally.
“It’s exciting for all the kids that play here and it helps the development in town to see our national team,” MacPherson said.
St. Albert already has a large rugby following because of the dedicated efforts by members of the senior rugby community. Roger Scott, club co-founder and coach, chalks up the growing interest in rugby to their investment in grassroots level development and the commitment the community has to grow the sport.
“We have wonderful dedicated coaches who love the game and love the kids and want to build the sport,” Scott said.
Once the 90-minute practice started it was easy to see why they were one of the top squads in the world. It was a bone crushing event focusing on the point of contact, and the team left the crowd in awe of the intensity. The spectators cheered and hollered after every ruck and forceful hit.
“They practised very hard out there on the field and that’s a very serious practice for a Sunday game,” Scott said. “There has been a lot of contact and a lot of hard work and they’re certainly looking to inflict some damage on England.”
The Canadian team went on to lose a close game of 15-14 against England in the final match of the tournament. They finished last in the standings, amassing two points during the tournament.