St. Joe's Rams go 1-2 at the A/AA girls' rugby tournament, but a 26-12 victory
over the Ashbury College Colts, is the milestone of their first season
Tuesday, June 4, 2019
OSHAWA, ON. - It only took the St. Joseph's Rams until their second game ever at OFSAA rugby for their first victory.
In their magical debut season playing the sport, the Rams finish 1-2 at the girls' A/AA tournament.
The Rams defeated the Ashbury College Colts, from Ottawa, 24-12, at Eastdale Collegiate.
A vast improvement over an opening day lost to number two seeded Peterborough Holy Cross, who has advanced to the gold medal match.
"We're all very, very happy," Rams' coach Wolff Schweitzer. "Number one, we talked about our defensive alignment. That was difference for sure. We were much, much better, so we were in the spots to make the tackles."
Ashbury open the scoring with an unconverted try, but then it was all Rams.
Jamie Giles, with three and Anna Fox, had the Rams' trys, while Sophie Pellerine kicked four two-point converts.
"It was good comeback for us because we were a little down from yesterday. That was our first loss for the season)," said Fox. "Jamie played an important part in that game. She worked so hard to punch through their line."
The Napanee Hawks ended the Rams' OFSAA run, with a 30-0 win in their third game, but that didn't lessen the enthusiasm the St. Joe's players had for being at the tournament.
"It's kind of surreal. We didn't think that we would make it far, but to even make it to OFSAA was kind of crazy," said Fox. "To win a game at OFSAA, is honestly just fun. We're having so much fun and we're enjoying ourselves."
The season would have never happened if not for two Grade nine students, Sophie Pellerine and Leah Lowe, both with rugby experience playing on club teams at St. George's Fields, east of London.
Pellerine, who has been playing since Grade seven, got the ball rolling even before attending a single class at St. Joe's.
"All last summer I was talking with (club) coaches, I'm not even at the school yet, but do you have contacts who I can talk too, to start a team," said Pellerine, a graduate of St. Anne's elementary school.
Neither Pellerine or Lowe had OFSAA on their minds preseason.
"Sophie and I were talking at the beginning of the season and we were like, we'll be lucky if we win a game," said Lowe. "We'll see how the season goes. It'll be fun and a lot of learning. Then all of sudden we play our first game and we win."
Pellerine adds, "I thought this year would be building up to it. We had so many people who were interested."
The team attracted interest from not only fellow Grade nine students, but seniors such as Mary Clare Haasen, Rachelle Charron, Haeley Demeray and Reagan Bennett.
"Every single person started to understand what position they were playing. It was amazing," Lowe said. "Some of the girls who have never played before are playing better than some girls who have been playing for a bunch of years. We have positions that are hard to pick up, like scrum-half and 15, but they were able to catch up so fast."
The victory at OFSAA capped the impressive first season.
"I was blown away. When we won it was a huge celebration," said Lowe. "We were worried how we would fit in and our first game, kind of made us feel down, but today, we know we can do this. Every single person helped everybody out and everybody was supportive. It was amazing to watch and play in.
Now the freshmen are looking for more.
"We've already done way better than anybody expected. Our team is really proud and our school has been following us along the whole time," said Pellerine. "I'm so excited for the next couple years. This is not the last time you'll be seeing us at OFSAA."
(Peterborough Holy Cross (3-1), who the Rams lost to in their first game, lost in the gold medal game to Trenton (4-0). Napanee (4-1) won the consolation final defeating Burlington Notre Dame.)