It wasn’t quite the end to the season that they had hoped for, but the Red Deer Titans U15 boys rugby team are holding their heads high after taking home the provincial silver medal last weekend.
After putting up a perfect 9-0 record in Calgary Rugby Union play this season, the boys in purple finally met their match last Saturday when they took on the also undefeated Edmonton Druids U15 of the Edmonton Rugby Union in the provincial final in Calgary.
“They were probably the toughest team we played all year. They were surprisingly big. Noticeably, right off the bat that was the first thing we noticed about them was how big they were,” said U15 Titans’ Coach Sean Tindall of the matchup, which saw the ERU champion Druids pick up a 35-10 victory over the CRU champion Titans.
“They ran well. I think we actually, overall, moved the ball better than they did, but their big kids were able to just run it right back to us.”
Although the loss in the final was a tough pill to swallow for the Red Deer team, Tindall said they’re proud of all that they have accomplished over the course of this season.
“We have nothing to be ashamed of. We played some fantastic teams this year and we won some real battles. I think the kids are really bummed after the loss, but you need that one way or the other. It sucks to get it at the provincial final but if I had to do this season again, I would do it the same way.
“Being 9-0 going into the provincial final, that ain’t nothing.”
Tindall added that, on a technical level, one of the keys for the team this season has been their ability to move the ball quickly to the outside.
“We had a couple of big kids, but overall we weren’t a large team, so that was the game plan was to get the ball out wide as quickly as we can and use that space.”
But beyond the technical aspects of the game, one of the things that really stood out about this team was their heart.
“It’s the Titans’ core values. You’re a bit of a family; you don’t choose your teammates. You play with passion, you play with heart and you take pride in what you’re doing and tough it out when things get tough. These kids did that.”
It was a magical season for the young rugby players, who Tindall said didn’t set out at the beginning of the year gunning for a championship.
“I play myself and I was getting more nervous for these U15 games than I was for my own games,” laughed Tindall, a member of the Titans’ Men’s squad.
He added that for him, it has been a pretty wild ride this year.
“At first I was a little bit in disbelief because, you know, we did alright last year but this was quite a different feeling,” Tindall recalled of his mindset when the team got off to such a fantastic start this season.
“Then it was the realization that we were implementing our game plan better than the teams we were playing. We were playing better, and that was the realization that we were in the hunt for more than just a good season. It might become a great season.”
But for the coach, victories and championships, though nice to get, weren’t necessarily the focus for the team of young and developing rugby players.
“The only real goal I have is to try to develop them into better rugby players. I have a relationship with Rugby Alberta at the U16 team level and one of my own goals is to get as many players from the Red Deer program into the U16 Alberta program. That involves, partly, developing them from a skill perspective as rugby players but also just developing them as good kids. Character goes a long way,” he said, adding that the team had as many as seven players make the first cut for that program this year.
Still, it’s not very often that you get a team that gel and play together quite the way that this one has, and when it happens it’s a pretty special feeling.
“It’s hard to find words when you see that. It’s the kind of thing that you know it when you see it but it’s hard to describe, it’s hard to teach,” said Tindall
“I just wanted the kids to play good rugby, and that’s what they did.”
Meanwhile last weekend, the Titans U13 boys took home the provincial bronze medal on Saturday after defeating the Calgary Canucks, taking away the last minute win in overtime.