Skip to content

Inconsistent season ends for Banff men’s rugby

“We can play social rugby, not a problem, but if you want to win, you gotta show up.”

BANFF – The hunt for a championship has ended for the Banff Bears men’s rugby team.

The 2023 season came to a close Saturday (Sept. 9) at the Banff Recreation Grounds with an emphatic win over the Calgary Irish in 10s action, improving their record to 7-5.

Despite dominance over the Shamrocks, the Bears, last year’s champions Calgary Rugby Union, didn’t have the bells and whistles in 2023. Instead, it was a mediocre season highlighted by forfeits and the Bears never finding a groove.

“It’s not our best record,” said Banff head coach Lee Garrett. “We got some things to take away and hopefully come back next year and work out what they were. [We need to] come together a bit more in training and really apply ourselves if we want to be that championship team.”

All five of Banff’s losses came to the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in the league, the Bow Valley Grizzlies of Cochrane and the Red Deer Titans.

On top of that, three of the Bears’ victories were handed over in the way they didn’t want it – by forfeit – with teams unable to field enough players for a match of 15s. However, as seen on Saturday, the Bears were more than willing to play with fewer athletes on the pitch, which they had done several times in order to play.

“It was a nice close to the season,” said Bears centre Nathan Wilson, who ran in three tries. “Obviously we would have loved to play a full game but it was just good to get out at the end of the season was the main thing.”

Playing rugby since age five in southeast London, Wilson, a rookie on the Bears, said the team “beat ourselves” this season rather than getting dominated in matches.

“There were games we turned for up and just weren’t there,” said Wilson. “For a season that was pretty much scrambled, we had lots of games that were postponed or cancelled or we couldn’t get into much of a rhythm so … it’s hard to build on that overall all through the season.”

The Bears, normally a team to be reckoned with, faded with each forfeit. Players became disinterested with the no-shows and it “killed us” when the untested Bears went up against the heavyweights of the league.

Head coach Garrett said for some, it felt like they were wasting their time.

“It’s a social club. It’s up to the boys that need to come together and work out what they want,” said Garrett. “We can play social rugby, not a problem, but if you want to win, you gotta show up.”

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

An award-winning reporter, Jordan Small has covered sports, the arts, and news in the Bow Valley since 2014. Originally from Barrie, Ont., Jordan has lived in Alberta since 2013.
Read more


push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks