WINDSOR, N.S. — Hants County's women's rugby team is bulldozing over the competition this season.
Of the three games they've played to date, the women have won all of them by a considerable margin.
Warren MacLeod, a coach for the Hants County Rugby Football Club’s Machine women's division 2 team, attributes much of their dominating performance to the talented athletes and how well the team has gelled.
“I think the stand out for me this year has been... in all of the games we've played, we've had seven, eight, nine try scorers. It's really spread out across the team, which is really great to see because it means that you have a broad amount of talent there,” said MacLeod.
“I'm really pleased with the girls and their progress.”
MacLeod co-coaches the team with Ben Brown. He said the team decided at the first practice that they were going to change up their perspective and focus on having more fun this season.
Traditionally, the women would practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays. After discussing their schedule as a team, it was decided the women would practice on Thursdays and spend Tuesdays doing team-building exercises.
“For example, a couple of weeks ago, we went up to Scott's Bay and picked up plastic on the beach there and then had a barbecue,” said MacLeod. “I think next week we're planning to go play rugby on a beach somewhere.”
He said that has helped build a strong camaraderie, and in turn, has attracted more women to join the squad.
“We have more girls registered this year than we have had in many years,” said MacLeod, noting that they have a wide range of skill levels and talent.
The Machine has several players that have been shortlisted for national teams, and several are members of the Nova Scotia Keltics.
“There's a lot of talent on the team and that translates to really entertaining rugby,” said MacLeod.
“The great thing is the junior girls and the girls who don't know how to play rugby are learning from the experienced girls and there seems to be a really good bond there,” said MacLeod.
MacLeod said the new challenge cup series played at the Oakley Graves site in Halifax on Sundays is also helping to further develop the skill set of the up-and-coming rugby players.
“That's just been instituted this year and it's fantastic. Really, really good for developing rugby,” said MacLeod. “I think the reason they instituted that was to give a bridge for high school players that might not have the confidence to step right into a Division 2 or Division 1 league game. (They) can step into something that is not quite as competitive, that's got more girls at a junior skill level.”
The Machine women who participate in the challenge cup games also see some regular league action, usually in the second half.
The Machine took on the Dartmouth Pig Dogs for their first match of the season and won 67-0. Their second game saw them defeat Charlottetown 116-5. On June 28, they hosted the Halifax Tars and won 92-22.
Up next is a home game against Pictou County, which MacLeod said should be a much closer battle — and one that rugby fans will want to watch. The game is scheduled for July 28 at 1 p.m. at the pitch at King's-Edgehill School.