From There to Here, Part 1: Riverview HS Royals

The Riverview High School Girls have achieved admittance into the AAA Provincial Final kicking off this Friday June 5th at 5:30 Pm at Field 3 of the CN Sport Plex.

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They have to replay the Moncton High Purple Knights. In the first encounter MHS won 29-0 on May 11th.  That is quite the comprehensive result and certainly more than enough reason to hail MHS as the favourite and perhaps deservedly so.  Let’s face it, this occurred less than a month ago. So what chance does RHS have?

Let’s look a little deeper into this and try to add some perspective.  First off, the season isn’t won or lost on the first day of the season and RHS have proven that.  It certainly made their road uncompromising, but what doesn’t kill you…

It’s not like there isn’t history far and wide showing this result is still to be determined.  Immediately dozens of examples that come to mind. The most recent being the RHS Boys who on May 15th dropped in a 32-5 loss to MVHS only to travel into MVHS 2 weeks later and come away with 35-32 win.  RHS proved they could swing a 30 point variance in a number of weeks.  That is the challenge set forth now for the girl’s side.

For anyone who thinks beating this team once was enough are overlooking the obvious.  This isn’t the same team who opened the year versus MHS.  To illustrate how this team has been playing against top competition let’s review how both RHS and MHS have fared against the other top teams in their division.

MHS earned a 10-0 victory over BMHS.  Just 11 days later RHS put up a 36-10 result on the defending champions, BMHS.  In between these two games RHS did something no other team this year has done, they beat École L’Odyssée 28-24.  MHS managed a draw.  In these two games, RHS has a 20 point differential better than MHS and are 2-0 while MHS had one win and one tie.

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The reason for this disparity maybe play styles, or it may be something else. Often times we can’t put our figure on these things and call them “intangibles”.  It would be more appropriate in this case to call it experience.

Our sport is easy to learn and play and nearly impossible to master.  Experience, knowledge and ability to adapt on the day is something all players struggle to master.  Bigger, Stronger, Faster is great, but only if you need size, have an opportunity to use your strength and react just as fast as your opponent.  RHS are comfortable with matching their athleticism with anyone, realize size and strength in set pieces are minimized due to the u19 rules and are banking on their experience to ensure faster reaction to all situations, whether that be after the whistle and during open play.

The reason I claim that RHS are more experienced, is based solely on championship experience.  In 2012 RHS won the AAA Provincial Championship.  Not only that, but five 9th graders from that team are the core of the current squad. Captain and Leader of the team, not to mention top scorer, is # 8 Maggie McPhee,  lock Allison Aitken, winger Allie Ayles, scrum-half Amelia Basterache and dynamic inside center Siobhan Murphy comprise the core of five all playing their fourth year of HS Rugby.

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Going into the Semi Final’s game Bob Wallace had this to say when speaking about these girls; “This group has provided much of the inspiration for our current squad.  They have been great from a team perspective and (they) don’t want this season to end.” As fate would have it, RHS required heroics to overcome a 12-0 deficit with 12 minutes remaining in the semi, and wouldn’t you know it, but Murphy and McPhee were the names credited for the 14 points needed to win.

With quality players like M&M, there is no chance the Royals will have an ounce of quit on the pitch Friday.  The growth of this team through adversity has made them strides better than could have been envisioned just a month ago.  The performance of this group as a whole can be considered nothing short of a blazing success, but these girls aren’t the type to be satisfied with yesterday’s win, because they are looking forward to tomorrows game.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2: Moncton HS Purple Knights.

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