Photo Credits: Ash Cloutier – MacDog Photgraphy
The economy has struck many organizations in the Lakeland area. After 25 years of being a club supported by players from Cold Lake and Bonnyville area, the Penguins Rugby Club have made an unprecedented move to merge with the Lloydminster Reapers.
Out of town work causes low numbers
With players being pulled out of town to work and make ends meet, the Cold Lake Penguins saw low player registration for the 2017 season. Dave Brown, President of Penguins Rugby, notes that players fear “any time away for the sport, or possible related injuries that may jeopardize their job security.”
A tough decision
In 2017, the club waived all club dues to make the sport more accessible. The change helped the club move forward towards the season, but still did not solve the problem. The decision was made to merge with the Lloydminster Reapers Rugby Club for the 2017 season. The move is the first such in Penguins history. The Edmonton Rugby Union (the league in which the Penguins play), was very supportive of the move. ERU’s support came mostly for the idea of a creative solution that ensured the future success of the sport in both cities.
The first games together
May 27 marked the first games for the amalgamated clubs. Now acting as one, they took to the pitch to battle for a couple of games.
The women’s game was a huge success as both the Reapers and Penguins joined forces for their first win together. It was a 20-0 win over the Fort McMurray Riggers. Samantha Aneca scored her first career tri.
The men’s side would lose 43-14 against the Grande Prairie Centaurs. Austin Bamber Machatis had a stand out performance for the Penguins/Reapers, working multiple positions throughout the game.
“We had some great moments on offense where they struggled to answer our intensity and continuity. In fact if not for a couple try line moments where the white line fever seemed to snake bite us, the score would have been really close.” Dave Brown said of the men’s game.
The next games are in Lloydminster.