All the question had been asked: Would MHS be able to Run the Table and go undefeated? Could RHS possibly stop the MHS Jaugernaught? How could RHS overcome a 29-0 loss only one month ago to MHS at the outset of the regular season? How could the smaller RHS girls possibly take on the larger and stronger MHS pack? Approximately 500 fans, family and friends needed answers to these questions and came out to watch the 2015 version of the Wallace Cup. What a memorable game, with RHS posting a 12-7 upset victory.
RHS started with the wind at their back and were able to play much of the first half in the MHS end. Unfortunately RHS were unable to convert this territorial advantage into points. MHS opened the scoring with a converted try to go up 7-0 after 30 minutes. Jayde Olscamp scored the try from a loose ruck, providing the convert was Katrina Bohnet. RHS answered on the last play of the first half when inside centre, Siobhan Murphy, ran in a 50 meter try and touched down in the far right corner of the MHS end zone. RHS Captain and goal kicker extraordinaire, Maggie MacPhee, took her time with the conversion attempt from the sideline, as she sorted out the gusting wind currents that were coming at a 45 degree angle but from over her right shoulder. MacPhee made no mistake as she let the wind draw the kick through the MHS goal posts and RHS entered the turn tied 7-7. RHS Head Coach Melanie Hughes commented “Maggie has made some very good kicks for us all year but this was by far the most difficult angle and distance” MHS coach Jaco Olivier offered this “our scrums and rucks were going well through most of the first half, but RHS were also playing well and putting some pressure on us. RHS made some adjustments in their front row with about ten minutes left in the first half which changed the rhythm of the game.” (Note RHS had brought on props Caissey Pitchford and Eni Oguntona).
The second half saw both teams with a balanced territorial share, however Moncton High was winning the battles for possession of the ball. Riverview responded with a strong defence, led by flankers Hannah Sears and Cassy Smith. RHS Coach Bob Wallace offered this “We had been practicing our tackling right up to game time, as we needed to have a system to bring down the MHS power forwards who were much bigger and stronger than us. We had devised a plan to use our female coaches for tackling practice. When two of the three coaches limped off the field on Thursday evening practice, I had a hunch our defence was processing our strategy and gaining confidence but I really never expected such and outstanding effort and by so many. In the end, when you can hold a team like MHS to only 7 points, that speaks very loud. Cassy and Hannah were leading the RHS forwards and making key tackles behind MHS the gain line. The RHS backs were also doing well on defence, with diminutive Fly-half Jata McCabe (grade 10) punching above her weigh class all game. Jata’s task was simple, contain the MHS #10 Jayde Olscamp (NB U18). Jata limited Olscamp to a single try. Jata also provided inspiration to the rest of the back line. Wallace continued, “When Jata limped off the field with 5 minutes to go, she was battered, bruised and had a black eye, however she had completed her assignment and had managed to contain the much bigger and powerful Olscamp. “We turned the fly-half job over to Siobhan Murphy. Siobhan was having an outstanding game as well, combining some good runs on offence with sure and reliable tackling on defence. Also, our full-back Grace Park was also doing well on defence and had made three open field tackles which robbed MHS of sure tries. Grace was the last line of defence at full back. With the game winding down, Grace also made a terrific catch at full speed, from a booming MHS punt, and she returned it deep into the MHS half to the delight of the RHS supporters. Grace told me after the game that she could see her entire 3 year career at RHS coming down to making that one single catch. Grace made no mistake and came through for the team and had a career day for sure.”
RHS Head Coach Melanie Hughes felt that the Royals were able to combine their overall team fitness, patient defence (bend but don’t break) and a total team concept where each player had a role and they played for each other. “Our overall fitness prevailed. That’s where we started with our MaxFit training program in Feb. and that seemed to be our competitive edge during all those tight games”. Hughes added, “Some of these girls have also learned a lot of Rugby skills and knowledge in four years here at RHS. If you consider that each year we do 10 MaxFit Training sessions, that’s 40 MaxFit sessions over 4 years. We would also practice 20 times each year, so thats 80 practices, and we usually would play 12 games per season so that 48 games. I guess we used a bit of that knowledge and experience today as well.” Hughes concluded by acknowleding the super game that MHS played. “MHS kept coming at us all game. Some of our girls are very sore but that’s championship rugby. There were no losers on that pitch. MHS will be a factor for many years and their day will come.”
Hughes concluded by thanking all the players. “The girls will remember this season for the rest of their lives. This team was very tight and enjoyed playing for each other. The Wallace Cup is back in Riverview and we will be pleased to display it in the Trophy Cabinet. I am not sure if anybody planned for that. The 2015 Banner will be hung up in the gym with the other two rugby banners (Girls 2012 and Boys 1985). And just maybe, someone will call RHS a Rugby School as opposed to a school where rugby is played.”
Special thanks and congratulations to Bob Wallace for his work with the team and in helping us with information for so many posts. Thinking of you a lot today Jim. It’s been 15 months without you. I’m sure no one is prouder of this group than you.