It’s fitting to think that tin and aluminum are meant to represent the tenth anniversary because of their strength and resiliency. As the Carleton Ravens’ rugby team returned to the pitch following a pandemic canceled season in 2020, their tenth anniversary was an example of those very characteristics. Despite an opening week loss, injuries and challenges, the Ravens rose to new heights in 2021 setting program records and proving the program’s durability.
Despite a week 1 loss at home, the Ravens would dominate the RSEQ Section B, outscoring their opponents 263-34 in the regular season finishing second with a 5-1 record and earning themselves a quarter-final matchup against the Concordia Stingers. Celebrating their tenth season as a varsity program, the Ravens had a lot to celebrate in 2021.
Led by an impressive September which saw Vanessa Chiapetta (Rigaud, Que.) named RSEQ Athlete of the Month. The Ravens set a new single-game scoring record in week 3, beating McGill 90-5 at the Ravens Perch. By the time their quarter-final at Concordia rolled around, six Ravens had earned RSEQ Second-Team All-Star nominations. Among the Ravens to receive RSEQ honours, Lauryn Walker (Brampton, Ont.) would shine bright in the quarters, scoring the Ravens’ lone try to propel the team to their first semi-final in program history.
While the Ravens would lose to Laval in the RSEQ semi-final, the year’s story had not been fully written. On November 7 the Ravens would face Montreal for the third time in the season, taking the pivotal rubber match to overtime. After falling behind by two tries in the extra frame, the Ravens would storm back, scoring late in overtime to close the Carabins lead to 5. Then on the final drive of the season, co-captain Anastasia Bourka (Ottawa, Ont.) would break free from mid-field, breaking three tackles on route to scoring a game-tying try as time ran out. Fellow fifth-year and co-captain Roberta Drummond (Belleville, Ont.) would take care of the rest, notching her 18th and final conversion of the season to give the Ravens their first bronze medal in program history.
As the Ravens look to move forward they’ll be able to rely on this season’s depth as a solid foundation to build on. Having played thirty different players throughout the season, the Ravens were able to ensure their young players gained valuable minutes as they move forward. “We’ve got five or six graduating players this year, so being able to get those first-year players into game time will definitely help us in the long run when they are in their third- and fourth-year to continue building the program.” said coach David Luong.
Having seen great success from returning players like Vanessa Chiapetta, Lauryn Walker and Katie Cox, the Ravens are will continue to grow. Asked about the contributions these young players made to the team, and how it will help moving forward, coach Luong is optimistic. “I think it was definitely important, more to prove to themselves that they can compete at this level and push that pace.” He would go on to add “It’s great to see a lot of the hard work that they put in through the past 18-months, with no real outlook on what the future would look like, but they put in the work and they saw the results with the team.”
With a strong core of returning players, it’s hard not to be excited for 2022. The Ravens will continue to refine their skills in indoors sevens action over the winter months and will no doubt come back stronger and more prepared when they return to the pitch. As the Ravens build off their bronze medal, Coach Luong is confident the group is moving in the right direction saying, “Right now a good chunk of our core is back, and being able to rotate those players through the season just puts us into a better position with a good core to proceed with next year. And now we’ll continue to add those pieces and become a top program.”