Bishop Mac rugby girls eye their A/AA competition

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH – While the Bishop Macdonell Celtics want to finish as high as they can in the District 4/10 high schools girls’ rugby league, there are three opponents they will be keeping a closer eye on – the Erin Raiders, Wellington Heights Wolverines of Mount Forest and the Westside Thunder of Orangeville.

Those four teams represent the A/AA schools competing in the league this season and two of them will gain berths to next month’s CWOSSA tournament.

“CWOSSA is an easier goal than getting that D10 championship because we’re a AA school,” Bishop Mac co-coach Dave Cullen said. “We’re not competing against Ross and other powerhouses like that to make it to CWOSSA.”

The Celtics, league finalists behind the OFSAA AAA-champion Ross Royals last year, started their regular season with wins over two of their A/AA rivals on a wet Thursday at Varsity Field. Bishop Mac defeated the Erin Raiders 12-5 and dropped Westside 53-0 in a game halted by lightning midway through the second half.

“This was a fantastic start for the season,” Cullen said. “The girls came out flying against Erin and they did not let up against Westside, either.”

If the Celtics and Ross meet in D4/10 play this season, it’ll be in the playoffs. The Orangeville Bears, Centre Wellington Falcons of Fergus and the Centennial Spartans are the AAA squads on Bishop Mac’s regular-season schedule.

This year’s Bishop Mac squad is a little different from last year’s team that was downed by Ross in the league final.

“We lost a lot of players due to graduation, but the girls this year, we’ve got a couple of good faces coming out that are new to the game and are picking it up pretty quickly,” Cullen said. “The girls are dedicated and they’re committed and they’re showing a lot of heart.”

Christina Nadalin and Sarah Funkenhauser each scored a try in the win over Erin. Robin Annis had a try for the Raiders.

Funkenhauser and Nadalin also accounted for the majority of Bishop Mac’s points in the win over Westside as they each had three tries and two converts. Other scorers were not reported.

Despite the victories, the Celtics know they have work to do to be ready for the playoffs. Like all spring team sports in high school, the rugby season is a quick one. There’s exactly one month between the start of the D4/10 season and the CWOSSA finals.

“Set pieces,” Cullen answered when asked what the Celtics had to work on the most. “We’ve got to work on our set pieces. Line-outs, especially in this bad weather with the rain, line-outs are very difficult to accomplish properly. The scrums were looking very strong today.”

Also in the mini-tournament, Wellington Heights defeated Westside 25-0 and a game between Wellington Heights and Erin was postponed due to the lightning. It’s expected to be played next week.