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Clippers boys out, girls side advances

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The Dauphin Clippers boys rugby team has bowed out of the Westman High School Rugby League playoffs.
While the team is eligible to play a semifinal game, coach Rodney Carberry said uncertainty around whether the Clippers could field an entire team led him to the decision to withdraw.
“We didn’t want to put ourselves in a position where we couldn’t absolutely guarantee that we would make that semifinal game,” Carberry said, adding the school has been relentless in enforcing grade and attendance requirements for athletes.
“The boys struggled to commit to their games with numbers all season. So they were ranging from 12 to 13 at best with no subs and we forfeited two games as result of it.”
Taking that all into consideration, Carberry contacted the Swan River Tigers coach and asked them to step in for the Clippers.
“Rightfully they would be the next place team to fill in and they were willing to do it, so we decided it was best for the league to guarantee that Swan River could take that spot,” he said.
The players did not like the decision, but they understood, Carberry said, as they have seen the struggles all week.
It is particularly frustrating for the coach, given the team’s portential.
“We have good structure on our team, we’ve got athletes, we have good ability,” Carberry said.
“We are a third place team this year and we couldn’t get it together in school this year and that killed us.”
The team showed its potential in its final game of the season, a 52-12 win over Elton at Kin Field in the Vermillion Sportsplex, May 16.
And with 14 players turning out for the game, Carberry liked what he saw.
“I wish we were able to see it in every other game we played this year. And I also wish we would have been able to see that on the school side,” he said.
“But they certainly pulled together and it was a great game. They did a great job.”
On the girls side, the Clippers have a semifinal date with the Swan Valley Tigers at Kin Field today (May 21).
Coming off a convincing 66-14 win over the Vincent Massey Vikings in Brandon last week, the Clippers are ready for the playoffs, Carberry said.
While the Swan River team is made up of good athletes, their tendency to play as individuals make them ripe for the picking, Carberry added.
“If we just keep the ball out of their hands and we keep the structure that we run, they are not going to know how to deal with us, he said, adding the Clippers defeated the Tigers in the first game of the season.
“Defensively we are solid and we will shut them down. If we can take control of the game, then we should have no problems with it.”
The final is a little bit more of a wildcard, Carberry said, with Minnedosa and Souris meeting in the other semifinal.
Carberry expects Minnedosa to advance to the final, saying a Souris victory would be considered an upset.
“Either way it is going to be a game. If we meet Minnedosa in the final, that is pretty much how it has been for the previous two years,” he said, adding the Clippers only beat Minnedosa by one point the last time they played.
“I think we are guaranteed to make the final, but we are not guaranteed to win the finals.”
The girls team, too, has had its challenges this year with suspensions and injuries, but through it all have maintained their commitment to an overall vision, Carberry said.
“The girls are always good at committing to a structure and committing to a system and running with it.” Carberry said adding last week’s game was an example of what the Clippers are capable of when they are playing as a team.
Games such as that give him the freedom to do some teaching with the younger players.
“The second half we moved all of our brand new players into front line positions. We do a lot of stuff like that to make sure we are well rounded and we’ve got succession for the following years,” Carberry said.
“The girls that only had two games under their belts were moved into a first receiver position. We want to get the ball in their hands more and we want them making mistakes in those games so that they don’t carry them into the ones that count.”