As the 2023 season of the St. Albert Rugby Football Club's senior men’s team takes off, both head coach Alexis Michel and assistant coach Graeme Scott are optimistic.
Despite the challenges from the ongoing effects of Covid-19, the team is aiming for a winning season, with key victories already under their belt and a vision for continued success.
"The season started on May 27 with two wins for our two teams," Michel said. “We are actually far from our level from last year, so we expect that the team will continue to progress game after game."
Scott likes the team's composition this season.
"In our first 15, our backs are almost all returning," he said, with special mention of experienced centres, club president Matt Jarvis and Duncan McGuire.
McGuire, entering his golden years of rugby, has a history with both Canada 15s and the sevens program.
One bonus for the team is the number of players moving up from the juniors this year, reflecting the continuity of the organization's development program.
"Rugby is family," Scott said. "Many of these players have known each other for years — the experience of playing together helps the chemistry on and off the field."
As the season unfolds, Michel is focused on stacking wins.
"We are looking to defend our title and stay undefeated as long as possible," he said. "For our second team, the goal is to develop the level of our young players and prepare them to compete in the first team."
Michel admits those goals are ambitious, but said his "players are very dedicated, putting a lot of work and effort in to gain another title this season."
Despite the successes, the team has also faced its share of challenges. The SARFC is still recovering from the impacts of COVID-19.
"We have 38 guys registered. A typical rugby roster has 23 players. Many guys will have to do double duty for the second-division and third-division teams," Scott said. "Starting the season with a win for our third division team on Friday and a win with our seconds on Saturday is exciting. Credit to the boys. They work extremely hard at training."
Looking forward, the coaches have a clear game plan: to continue to grow and build on the foundation that has been laid. And with a resilient team spirit and a hard-working attitude, it is clear that the St. Albert Rugby Football Club's senior men’s team is ready to tackle any challenge that comes their way.