Eagstangs rugby closes out season
The H.A. Kostash – Vilna Eagstangs rugby team closed out its season last weekend, and while the team fell to Cold Lake in the zone finals, coach Lee Clarke said there is significant promise in the young squad heading into next season.
“Last year’s squad that went to provincials, we had a lot of Grade 12s, I think we graduated eight Grade 12s. There’s 15 per side,” he said. “This year we’re only going to be graduating two players, and one didn’t play a whole lot because he was injured, so basically we’re only losing one player from this year’s squad, which is fantastic.”
The group of players made up of H.A. Kostash Eagles and Vilna School Mustangs has dubbed themselves the “Eagstangs,” a name that amalgamates both school teams.
“The kids started coining the ‘Eagstangs,’ so it’s Eagles and Mustangs together. Our symbol kind of looks like a Pegasus, but we didn’t want to call ourselves the Pegasus because that’s not our name, so we called it the Eagstangs,” he said. “It’s kind of neat, we got t-shirts and stuff too.”
Leading up to the zone finals, the Eagstangs organized a preparation game against Sturgeon County, and used it to show off the talents of the squad’s young core of players.
“The game we won was a preparation game against Sturgeon County’s junior squad. It matched up well for us because we’re a younger team,” Clarke said, adding that the competition stiffened when the Eagstangs reached the zone finals against Cold Lake. “We just got beat by a better team in Cold Lake this year,”
While Clarke will not be returning to Vilna School next year, and thus will be unable to coach the Eagstangs next season, he is confident that there has been enough interest in the sport and development amongst players for the game to flourish in the Lakeland region.
“I feel honoured and ecstatic that I was able to get something off the ground and get the two schools communicating once again to work for a common goal. I hope that whatever my fate is when I leave here . . . that rugby will be strong and that it will carry on,” he said. “It’s such a great game, it would be sad to see it go. The kids that are committed are very committed and they’re devoted to the sport. I think it can only grow and flourish in this type of area in Alberta.”