Your source for local sports
Lady Rams head to OFSAA rugby

 Lady Rams heading to OFSAA rugby


   In their first season playing the sport, St. Joe's edges the St. Mike's Warriors,

   12-10, in the WOSSAA A/AA girls' rugby final

Thursday, May 23, 2019


Rams rugby team    St. Joseph's Rams, WOSSAA A/AA champions. The Rams defeated Stratford St. Mike's, 12-10, to win the WOSSAA crown and advance to OFSAA, in their first year competing in the sport.

By Rob J. Ross 

STRATFORD, ON. - Stressful final moments were overcome with jubilation, as the St. Joseph's Rams held on to win the WOSSAA A/AA girls' rugby championship.

In their first season playing the sport, the Rams have qualified for OFSAA, the high school provincial championship, following a 12-10 win over the Stratford St. Mike's Warriors, in the Western Ontario Secondary Schools Athletic Association (WOSSAA) A/AA final, at St. Mike's Secondary School.

St. Mike's scored a try with no time left on the clock in regulation play, to pull within two points. 

But an attempt at a two-point convert, that would have tied the score and sent the game to overtime, failed.

"It was stressful," Rams' Anna Fox said. "I was standing on the end line and from where I could see I thought it (ball) went through. Nobody on my side of the field was reacting. Then I saw teammates on the other side of the field throw their arms into the air. It was really cool seeing their reactions. It was surreal."

Aylssa Giesbrecht opened the scoring for the Rams with a try (five points), but the two-point convert attempt missed.

St. Mike's tied the game but also missed the convert.

The Rams grabbed a 12-5 lead on Giesbrecht's second try of the game and a successful two-convert kick from Sophie Pellerine.

"We really started to put our game together, especially offensively," Rams' coach Wolff Schweitzer said. "Taylor Richards and Anna Fox ran the ball extremely well, and the entire forward pack secured position throughout the game, led by Jamie Giles, Lexie Pellerine, and Jordan Lynch. Our backs (the smaller, faster players) were the difference today. They had a chance to score whenever they got the ball and were able to put St. Mike's on their heels at the very start of the game."

 Entering the season, the Rams weren't sure if they would win a game, let alone be at WOSSAA playing for a berth at OFSAA.

"We were thinking this is going to be rough. We only had two girls who had experience in rugby," said Fox. "We went in to the league thinking it would be good practice for next year. We played our first game and we won. Then we kept winning."

A huge shot of confidence arrived with a 7-0 win over Tillsonburg Glendale during the regular season.

"That game was the turning point," says Fox.

 Fox says her teammates appreciate how Pellerine and Leah Lowe, the two players with club experience, guided the Rams.

"They were really encouraging throughout the season. They didn't get frustrated because we didn't really know what we were doing," recalls Fox. "They taught us as we went along and if somebody did something wrong, they were like, 'next time, do this'. It was really nice to have two people who knew what they were doing. They helped us learn."

 OFSAA is June 3-5, in Courtice.

"The girls are thrilled," Schweitzer said. "They were full of questions right after the game. I had to tell them to simply enjoy their success for a few days and not to worry about plans for OFSAA until Monday, I think once it has a chance to sink in, the players will realize that they have a wonderful opportunity to test themselves against the best in the province. It will also be a fantastic experience regardless of our results, as many of our players are returning next year."

The Rams do have players with OFSAA experience from wrestling, including Mary Claire Haasen. Schweitzer is the head coach of St. Joe's wrestling team, known throughout the province to have athletes at OFSAA every year.

 "I am very proud of our wrestlers that have successfully crossed over to a new sport, and I'm lucky to have such a good group of young women that I've been able to work with in two sports this year," Schweitzer said. "Personally I am thrilled to be bringing a team sport to OFSAA for the first time."