Sisler High School’s rugby teams gave it their best try this season.
The varsity girls squad captured the Manitoba High School Rugby championship with a 20-10 win over Minnedosa in the provincial final on May 31 in Brandon. A banged up varsity boys team also made the provincial finals, losing 77-5 to St. Paul’s Crusaders.
Sisler rugby coach Nathan Tocher said it was a good season for both Spartans teams, especially the girls, who finished the season undefeated.
"Everything just kind of clicked. The right girls came together at the right time. I don’t know if the other teams just couldn’t handle us, but we just all clicked," Tocher said.
Tocher said the girls championship-winning team was led by four standout players: Grade 12 student Talia Gallant, Grade 11s Daphne Pili and Kristiann Leighton and Grade 10 player Kyanna Giles.
"They’re just relentless, each one of them. Whatever any team brought them, they just solved it and kept going," Tocher said.
"Talia Gallant wouldn’t stop tackling anyone, and once she made a tackle she’d get up and run the ball and just keep on going.
"Daphne and Kristiann, I hate to say it, but they’re kind of crazy. They won’t back down from anyone and they’ll just keep on going and going and going.
"Kyanna, she’s a power runner. Coming from basketball she knows how to play the body. She’s a strong girl. She’s in Grade 10 and she’s just imposing her force on everyone."
Pili, 17, who plays the fly-half position, similar to a running back in football, said she loves the contact aspect of rugby.
"I play other sports too, like basketball and volleyball, and I always get fouls in basketball. I just like hitting girls (laughs)," said Pili "The fact I can hit girls and not get a foul is pretty cool. I like the contact sports."
On the boys side, Tocher said his two team leaders this season were graduating players and co-captains Carl Alsaro and Isaiah Castillo.
"I sort of direct everyone where to go," said Alsaro, who plays scrum half, the link between the forwards and the backs.
"I call where everyone goes, what plays are being run. I feel like I direct traffic a lot. I try to keep everyone on task and make sure every play we run is crisp. I want everyone to get their full ability in."
Alsaro, who is attending the University of Winnipeg in the fall, said he hopes to continue being a leader on the field after high school.
"Our coach Nathan has his own Highlanders Rugby Club and I’m considering playing with them next year, and I also want to come back to Sisler and help coach the younger teams because that’s where I felt I grew a lot, when veterans and older players would come back and help us," Alsaro said.