The women had a strong fall season this year in a tightly contested league with the help of returning veteran players and some strong new additions. The Canadian National Senior Women's team's (NSWT) silver medal at the Women's Rugby World Cup definitely increased the profile of the women's game and consequently we saw a significant increase in interest from new players and players looking to dust off the boots after a few years out of the game. This led to having really strong registration numbers, lots of competition for starting positions and actually having an overflowing bench of subs most games!
The season started with a regional competition between the Vancouver teams which culminated in a one day tournament which crossed-over with the teams from the interior. The Meralomas split the two games of the regional, winning against Ridge Meadows, newly elevated to this level of rugby, and losing to United, who dropped down from Premier Women's where they played last year. The team then learned a valuable lesson when they went into the wrap up tournament where they lost both games, one to eventual league winner UBCO and one to Ridge Meadows.
Following that tournament, the regular season started with an away game against Kamloops who have been in the Division 1 Women's Final the last couple of years. After a tough battle where the lead was traded back and forth several times, we eventually gave up a late try and lost the game by 3 points. Despite the result, the players and coaches were encouraged by their strong play and solid effort right to the end. That set the stage for the next three games against increasingly difficult opponents each week.
First was a solid 38-7 victory over Ridge Meadows on their home ground, exacting some revenge for the defeat in the tournament. The next week we hosted Cowichan who featured Laura Russell, member of the NSWT. Despite that, the Loma women came out with a solid 29-15 victory against the previous year's Division 1 champions. The following week, the team showed that was no mistake with a 32-17 victory over United. The women were unfortunately unable to complete the home sweep, losing to a very well drilled UBCO team 31-0.
That left us in a 3-way tie for second place points-wise in the league with Cowichan and Kamloops. Kamloops held the tie-breaker over us and the Meralomas held the tie-breaker over Cowichan. The final weekend of the season would give us a chance to hold sole possession of second place, with only Nanaimo, whose only victory had come in a default, in our way. Unfortunately, Mother Nature was not in our favour and that game was cancelled due to frost. Fortunately, the team found out about the last-minute cancellation before they got on the ferry!
The team now looks forward to the Spring season. Based on their performance from the first half, the Meraloma Women should be considered one of the stronger teams in the league, but will have to fight every weekend to prove it against opposition who will be much more prepared. With so many players and considerable interest from players who were unable to come out in the first half, the Meraloma women will be running two teams in the second half. Adding a Division 2 team will give the players new to the game or those looking for a slightly less physically demanding level of rugby a great place to learn, improve and have fun.
With many new faces, the women’s team will be adding another team competing in both Division 2 and Division 1 . Find the schedule for both sides here!
(pictured: Meraloma Women vs Nanaimo Hornets)