From There to Here, Part 2: Moncton HS Purple Knights
To Be The Best, You Have To Beat The Best, Twice. This was always going to be the case for The MHS Purple Knights. Who they need to beat twice to be crowned Champions are the RHS Royals. Fortunately, they have already beaten them once, so it’s as simple (not easy) as doing it again, this Friday at 5:30pm on field 3 of the CN Sportplex.
The Story of the Moncton High Purple Knights was one that changed from surprising potential to that of strong favourite in the matter of 70 minutes. We had all seen the flashes last year, we had all heard the chatter over the winter. It goes back into last year where teams (like ODC and BMHS) that played MHS were given a run for their money. While those teams went on to play in the finals, MHS began to focus on this year.
The pre-season had everyone asking the questions about how good MHS would be this year and an exhibition tournament rarely answers more questions than it asks but when it took a 100 metre try for the reigning champs to pull to a draw with MHS, it certainly had us asking the right questions.
The 70 minutes where innuendo and suspicion turned to conviction was the season opener versus RHS. Riverview HS Royals are the real deal every year. Drubbing them by a 29-0 score left us with the impression that either MHS are a juggernaut or that RHS wasn’t as good as expected. The latter has been dis-proven, so we have only one thing left to determine.
From that point on Moncton HS have been looked at as the favourite. The biggest question asked of them since is if they are unbeatable? They have consistently answered with a “No, we are not beatable, but thank you for trying”. These words are mine of course and not of their team or anyone involved. https://monctonrfc.com/2015/05/20/unbeatable-moncton-high-girls-are-off-to-a-strong-start/
It is worthy of note that they did receive a strong game from BMHS, and were tested to the limit by ODC in what ended in a 12 all tie. On the surface those results may not be hailed as an exclamation point on a season, but it is often the greatest challenge that facilitates the most learning.
These tests help strengthen the confidence of the team. This is a versatile group, not dependant on the actions of one or two. Quite uniquely MHS is a team of many pieces fit together, oddly; a loose head prop (and sometimes flank) at outside center, a full back at flank, a winger at hook, a fly-half and inspirational leader at 8 man, a fly-half that runs like an 8 man, a four year vet at inside center and a generous helping of rookies. Last but not the least this team has gotten a lot of motivation from an outside source, a girl by the name of Kayla Montgomery. http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=11909407
This group may sound like a shuffled deck of cards, but certainly they have the right composition and the results thus far leave us with only one conclusion. Obviously the talents have been applied properly.
The Knights were able to play their preferred style of Rugby against the visiting SJHS during the semi this past Sunday. It is generally understood that MHS have a couple of big strong runners and hard-hitting tacklers. People are often quick to comment on the athleticism of the MHS team. That might be exactly what MHS want people to talk about. Meanwhile, MHS had five different people on the score board last Sunday vs SJHS, 3 Forwards and 2 Backs. If there is one thing that can be said, it is that they are a very well-balanced team with strength in the right places.
MHS are a very well-drilled and organized team. Their approach on the offence is methodical, patient and composed. Their defence is structured and as good as any of the teams playing and they add in a few huge hits to boot. The reality of the 70 minute long game is that one big hit rarely makes or breaks a game, instead it’s the other 100 tackles and more importantly the 10 that lead into a turnover in which the real balance of the game will sway.
Quick up defence and strong counter rucks create turnovers for MHS and they do it in a fashion more aggressively than most. Aggression on the team wide level is a function of approach and intent, not athleticism. This might be the most impressive thing about this team.
From the outside looking in, I can’t imagine the MHS season to have been any more successful than it has been thus far. I suspect, however, that from the inside the season has gone as expected and no one is surprised with the success so far.
The story line perhaps could not be better. Riverview High School Royals at the Moncton High School Purple Knights. Thanks to all the coaches, support staff, parents, teachers, students and rugby players for making this the best high school season. Good Luck in the finals to both teams. No doubt this will be a great contest.