Lions celebrate spirit of inclusiveness

Rugby: Foothills five making their mark on U-13 team

By: Remy Greer

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014 02:43 pm

Foothills U13 Lion Sage Hansen tackles a Calgary Saint at the Lions' annual Festival of Rugby on Saturday at the Holy Trinity Academy field in Okotoks.
Foothills U13 Lion Sage Hansen tackles a Calgary Saint at the Lions' annual Festival of Rugby on Saturday at the Holy Trinity Academy field in Okotoks.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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There were more than a few standouts at the Foothills Lions’ annual celebration of rugby.

Take for example, the quintet of girls on the Lions more than holding their own in U13 boys action versus the Calgary Saints at the club’s Festival of Rugby on Saturday at Holy Trinity Academy.

“It’s different than high school because that’s obviously girls,” said Lion Maddie Powell, who’s forced to play down with a younger age group. “It’s different to be with the guys and how they play differently. Girls like to keep it a lot more organized, keep a very strict backline.

“And this is more: if you’re there you make the tackle, you ruck.”

Of course, for the newcomers to the sport the art of tackling and the sheer physicality of fifteens rugby take some getting used to. Especially against the boys.

“Tackling and tackling the big guys, I’m scared that they’re just going to crush me,” said rookie Sage Hansen, who plays winger for the Lions. “Today was actually my first tackle that I’ve made. Now that I know what it’s like it’s not that bad.”

Hansen decided to join the sport after some urging from her art teacher as well as older brother Wyatt, a Strathcona Tweedsmuir Spartan rugby player.

The sport has also become a family affair for second-year Lion Brogan Mior. Her father Jamie suits up for the Lions second division men’s side and older brother Kaden Mior stars for both the Holy Trinity Academy Knights and with the Lions academy.

“My brother and my dad were playing it,” said Mior. “We went on a trip to California with the Mavericks rugby team and I saw them all playing and really, really wanted to play because it looked like a lot of fun and I wanted to go on tours.”

She was later joined by teammate Haley Mills at the behest of Mior last season as part of a trio of girls on the Lions roster.

Competing in the Calgary Rugby Union against the likes of the Saracens, Saints, Hornets and Titans seldom do their opposition line up more than one or two girls on the pitch. For Foothills, fielding four or five at a time is not a rare sight.

“For the team, we really need to work on our tackles and our rucks a bit more,” Mior said. “But it’s been going well.”

Their relative inexperience on the pitch is characteristic of the team as a whole. However, you wouldn’t know it by its free flowing rugby and the team’s 5-2 record.

“We started slow and we’ve progressively got stronger and stronger with each game which is promising because a lot of these players have never played before,” said coach Andy Hughes.

“Out of a squad of maybe 25, we probably only have four or five that have played previously.

“The team is coming together as we’re going forward.”

The U13 Lions were joined on the pitch on Saturday by their counterparts in the minis division, with teams at the U11, U9 and U7 level squaring off against the Calgary Saints.

Later, the top two U15 teams in Southern Alberta squared off with the Calgary Canucks and Lions renewing acquaintances as finalists in the city finals over the past two seasons.

The U15 Lions, coached by Dennis Samek, will look to get over the hump as consecutive silver medallists and dethrone the back-to-back champion Canucks.

The lone Foothills side not represented on the pitch on Saturday was the U18 Lions who don’t start their season until this coming weekend.

For more information on the Lions visit foothillslionsrugbyclub.com


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