It was a chilly start to the 2016 rugby season for the Red Deer Titans RFC, who played their first pre-season game against the Drayton Valley Riggers last Saturday evening at Frank Maddock High School in Drayton Valley.
The Titans fought through the rain and battled to a 20-12 victory over the Riggers in the annual Pink and Purple Cup game.
“They played really well. We have a lot of new guys with the team this year. It was a good game all in all. We have a few things to work on with the new players,” said Titans’ Head Coach Mike Berry of the team’s performance in the game.
“There were a lot of good things. Guys were moving the ball well and everybody stuck within our systems.”
Berry added the team took on eight brand new rugby players this season, so they still have a lot of work to do to get into game shape, but the outlook is good.
“Our defensive end needs a little bit of work, but that just comes down to communication experience with the new versus old guys. But there were a lot of good things for having such a new team to the sport.”
The new recruits went through a pre-season development camp earlier this month during which they learned many of the basics of the sport and generally got caught up to the returning or experienced players.
After playing all the way to the City semi-finals in the Calgary Rugby Union (CRU) last season before losing out, the Titans will be looking to continue to improve on that result in the coming months.
“It was a good year, we had a lot of guys playing a lot of rugby last year. But this year, obviously, we’re hoping for a better result both on and off the field,” said Berry, adding he’s hoping this year’s side will really gel together as a club.
“In the end, I think we just want a better result than last year and that we can manage to win and be in that final game.”
The 2016 CRU season is set to begin on May 7th, though no official league schedule has been released yet, and the Titans once again plan to field teams at both the Division 2 and Division 3 levels, with players bouncing back and forth between the two squads.
Berry noted that the focus between now and the start of the regular season will be to get everyone up to speed and ready to go.
“The focus is bringing everyone onto the same page, because with new guys, old guys and changes in the rules it’ll be helpful to have everybody understanding the same concepts,” he said, adding that focus on skill development will come over time for any new players.
“It is a long season, so I’m not in a rush to throw skills at the guys. It’s kind of a big picture thing right now.”
The CRU season runs from early May through to early October.
When the Titans receive the full schedule, it will be posted on their web site at www.titansrugby.com.