Alberta’s Five in a Row A Run for the Ages
Brian Swane, Special to Canada West
From 1999 through 2003, the Pandas reigned uninterrupted
as national champs, making history while simultaneously
stimulating a rugby revolution that has essentially made
replicating such a feat impossible.
“I don’t think there will ever be a team that will do what we did,”
says Pandas head coach Matt Parrish. “We set the bar and other
teams caught up, which is good.”
The 2017 U SPORTS Women’s Rugby Championship is coming to
the University of Lethbridge’s Community Stadium, Nov. 2 -5. This
marks the 20th edition of event, held annually since 1998, one
year before the Pandas o cially became part of U SPORTS rugby
and began their dynasty.
8 CANADA WEST YEARBOOK
“The local region at the time in Edmonton was very strong in
women’s rugby … and they came in and just dominated for
ve years, and then everyone else just caught up and rugby got
better across the country,” says Parrish.
Since 2003, Alberta has captured the Molinex Trophy once, in
2013, while ve other teams spanning the country have won
at least one national title, with several others picking up silver
or bronze medals. Parrish helped lead a movement for the
tournament to expand from six teams to the current eight-team
format which was rst used in 2015.
“I gured we had enough good teams across the country now to
have a competitive eight,” he says. “I’ve been to the last couple
nationals and watched the other teams and the quality is good
across all the conferences now where we can have two teams
(from each of the four conferences).”