Although the year didn’t end the way they wanted, the future looks bright for the Saskatchewan Rivers Dragons.
The Dragons fell 32-10 to the Martensville Springboks in the one-game winner-take-all Rowlands Cup Final in Saskatoon on Saturday. Although the loss was hard to swallow, Dragons head coach Justin Derkach said the season has still been a major success.
“The boys were upset that they lost the last game of the year, but on the bus ride home we talked about it and a lot of guys were pretty happy with themselves,” Derkach said.
“Especially our rookies and our younger guys who had to play a lot this year since we didn’t have a lot of numbers. They were pretty proud of themselves for learning a new game and then progressing to the point where we can actually play in a final.”
Despite the loss, the Dragons still left Saskatoon with a silver medal. Derkach said he’s proud of that accomplishment, and credited his players with working hard to develop into a cohesive unit, especially given the number of new rugby players on the roster.
“As the year progressed we went from more of an individualistic team to more of a “team” team,” he explained. “We moved the ball around well. We had each other’s backs and that helped us at the end of the year.”
They’ll be looking to continue that success with the Dragons next season, and hopefully gain a bit more experience this summer. The Dragons’ season is over, but several players have their sights set on trying out for the provincial team.
Derkach said the experience would be invaluable for returning players, who will once again be asked to show the ropes to a new crop of rookies. He’s hopeful that their level of enthusiasm will carry over to the next season too.
“We had to play those young guys a lot and a lot of them progressed,” Derkach said. “We have five or six guys who are going to try to play this summer with the provincial team, so that’s just going to help us next year as well. If these guys can bring out a friend or two for next year, we’re going to have a good team for the next couple of years.”