Valks Lay Down Gauntlet to ‘Lanta
By Alex Goff
April 7, 2006 – The Austin Valkyries women’s club will face the Atlanta Harlequins this weekend in a friendly, but to consider this a game of little consequence would be foolish, as Austin is hot on the trail of proving themselves a national contender.
The Harlequins in some ways represent something of the women’s rugby establishment, with several national team players, some of whom have been around for some time (Pat Neder, Patty Jervey). This isn’t a complete representation because Atlanta continues to bring in young talent (Kate Cox, Kirsten Aerts) to avoid that dreaded rebuilding year.
But Austin is in a way a contender made out of whole cloth as in only the most recent of years have they stepped forward and as much as made a public declaration they want to be at the top.
Head coach Andy Ireland wants this coming game to be part of that coming out process.
“As a team we have come on leaps and bounds in training and are targeting the game as an opportunity to beat a top three team,” said Ireland. “The Quins are a quality team and have a number of Eagles in their side but we are confident of keeping our unbeaten run going. Playing strong teams is the only way we can judge our form and I think we will give them a very hard time up front and with natural pace 9 to 15 will run them around in the backs.”
Running around the backs will be tough as the Harlequins have tons of speed. But in the forwards they continue to be a force, led by Eagles Meredith Ottens (yes, yes, we know, she’s been around for a while too), lock Jennifer Joyce, and all-star flanker Anna Kunkel.
So it’s just a game played in Austin on a Texas Saturday, but maybe, just maybe, it could mean more. If Austin is to make a statement, now would be the time.