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Comets rugby program set to host JV Festival on Apr. 1

Posted on March 30, 2023 by admin

By Garrett Simmons

Westwind Weekly News

It’s rugby season again here in southern Alberta.

The Raymond Comets, the back-to-back champions in Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association rugby 7s and 15s, are preparing to defend those titles once again.

But before the regular season gets started, Raymond is set to host an event on Saturday to help prepare its junior varsity players, a large group of athletes with a heavy concentration of first-time players.

“For next weekend’s JV festival, we’ve broken our JVs in two teams, Red and White, so every kid will get a chance to play,” said Comets head coach Dan Bikman, who added he was surprised by the number of JV athletes, particularly Grade 9s, that showed up to start the year. “I was told this group would be small, but we got 27 Grade 9 kids.”

Bikman added this isn’t the first time Raymond has split its JV unit. Pre-COVID, the Comets also had to create two teams due to burgeoning registration numbers.

“It’s awesome,” said the coach about the interest in the JV program. “We have lots of good kids and we have a good team of JV coaches.”

For the 2023 season, numbers are high once again across the board, as the Comets will likely end up with over 70 players.

“We’ve had 60-plus all week, and that’s without our varsity basketball players,” said Bikman.

The numbers are great but when you add the talent and the experience, that’s a deadly combination, which will make Raymond’s 7s and 15s teams very strong once again.

“We probably have a total of 20 kids that either played on the 7s or 15s teams last year, so we have lots of girls that have played for provincial championships.”

Once again, the goal for both teams will be provincial titles. The 7s and 15s teams have won gold in the last two provincial tournaments, in 2019 and 2022, as the 7s squad will look to defend the May 26 weekend in Edmonton and the 15s will compete the June 9 weekend in Calgary.

Saturday’s JV Festival will include a round robin format, where each team will play three games. The competition will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and will include a pretty laid-back atmosphere, with the opportunity for coaches to be on the field with their players.

“It’s a chance for a returning JV player to show some leadership but it’s also a chance for the new kids to just get some experience.”

Taber’s W.R. Myers and Lethbridge School Catholic Central, Chinook, Winston Churchill and Lethbridge Collegiate Institute will be in Raymond for the festival.

When the festival is over, attention will shift to the regular season, which begins April 5 in Pincher Creek. “I hear it will be a strong league this year,” said Bikman, who expects W.R. Myers, WCHS and LCI to all provide a challenge for his Comets.

F.P. Walshe will not field a team this year but with the addition of CCH, the league will continue to feature a solid group of squads.

Outside of league play, Raymond will travel to Edmonton for a tournament on April 28-29 and will then head to Red Deer on May 12-13.

Another highlight of the schedule will include an April 15 visit by Calgary’s Notre Dame, set for 2 p.m. in Raymond.

“They have won silver, silver and bronze the last three years,” said Bikman. “They’re a really strong team and they’re bringing their varsity and junior varsity teams.”

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