The Charlottetown Rugby Football Club (CRFC) looks to add to its championship history today in Truro, N.S.
The club has fielded a team in Rugby Nova Scotia’s division one league for three years and its division two squad is in its second year of existence.
They have won a combined three league titles in three attempts and both have made it back to championship Saturday today.
“It’s a big deal,” said division one captain Emily Keen, who has been with the club since its inception. “The first year, I think, we kind of surprised everyone and then last year was kind of proving ourselves . . . and I think this year was just keeping that momentum (going).”
CRFC went 6-3 in regular season play with two of those losses coming to undefeated Valley, who is today’s opponent in the championship game. Charlottetown was forced to forfeit one of the games to Valley in order to play a qualifier for nationals.
Keen, a 24-year-old scrum half from Marshfied, said the league has improved this season and she and her teammates are looking forward to the chance to playing Valley again.
“I think it will be a close game. Win or lose, I think, we’ll be proud of ourselves,” she said. “It would be nice, but I don't really feel pressure to win.”
The game might have a bit of a varsity feel to it with Valley having a number of Acadia Axewomen in their lineup and CRFC having a strong UPEI Panthers’ presence.
With the teams’ history, there probably won’t be many surprises.
“They kind of know our playbook and we’re kind of the same way,” said Keen, noting the importance of executing the game plan for both squads. “It’s going to be who sticks to their structure the best.”
Playing without the ball is a key for the Island girls.
“For us, we need to bring that defence that we had at nationals,” Keen said. “I think that was the best defence we had all year and we kind of lacked it our first game against (Valley).”
Sarah Visser, a 21-year-old second row from Orwell Cove, was on CRFC’s division two squad that won last year’s final by forfeit.
“It’s nice that we get to actually play the game this year and prove ourselves,” she said. “I think it will a good game and a rough game, but it’s definitely exciting to be able to play this game.”
They will play a Pictou County squad that defeated CRFC 39-12 earlier this month.
Pictou County looks to have the size advantage while CRFC has some more speedsters.
“I think we can use our backs and really get it out to score,” Visser said. “We have some really strong runners, especially on the wings.”
While CRFC plays wider than Pictou County, they aren’t afraid to get their noses dirty either, said James Voye, who coaches both CRFC squads.
“We have the capability of running in straight lines and smashing it up, too,” he said.
CRFC beat undefeated Valley in Tuesday’s semifinal in Truro.
“I hope we can carry that momentum through to the final,” Visser said.
She said practising with the division one squad all year helps prepare the division two squad.
“The div. one girls are definitely strong and it definitely makes us better competing against them,” she said.
Today is the culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication for the club’s members who have committed their time to show they can compete with their Nova Scotia counterparts.
“It’s why the girls pay their dues and come to practice,” Voye said. “It’s a huge commitment just to be in the Nova Scotia league because it means more travel for us and more travel means more money.”
How they got here
A look at the teams’ paths to the Rugby Nova Scotia women’s championship games.
• The Valley Rugby Union went 9-0 in the regular season and defeated Enfield 70-14 Sunday in semifinal play.
• The Charlottetown Rugby Football Club (CRFC) went 6-3 in the regular season and defeated Halifax Tars 60-22 in the semifinal.
• Valley and CRFC will meet in the final today at 2 p.m.
• Pictou County went 5-1 to finish second in regular season play and beat the Halifax Tars 103-19 in Tuesday’s semifinal.
• The Charlottetown Rugby Football Club went 2-3 to finish fourth in the regular season before knocking off top-ranked Valley, which went 6-0 in regular season play, 41-10 in the semifinal on Tuesday.
• Pictou County and CRFC meet in the final today at 4 p.m.
“It’s exciting, (but) it’s a little sad. Playing all summer is so much fun. We’re sad for it to end.”
Sarah Visser, a second row player for CRFC’s division two squad.