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Bow Valley Grizzlies open 2023 season with dominant shutout

The Bow Valley Grizzlies senior men’s team dominated their opening game of the 2023 Calgary Rugby Union (CRU) season, shutting out the Calgary Knights 67-0 on May 13 at the Calgary Irish Rugby Park.

The 2023 season for Cochrane’s fleet-footed, hard-hitting men’s rugby players is off to a great start.

The Bow Valley Grizzlies senior men’s team dominated their opening game of the 2023 Calgary Rugby Union (CRU) season, shutting out the Calgary Knights 65-0 on May 13 at the Calgary Irish Rugby Park.

The Grizzlies were more than ready to play a competitive game after initiating their preseason training a few months ago. Their extensive preparation immediately paid off as they sieged the Knights' castle with a one-sided performance.

“It went great,” said Ty Hawes, the Grizzlies’ head coach. “They worked really hard, they have been working really hard, and it showed when they got on the pitch.”

While winning a rugby match is always a team effort, Hawes noted the individual contributions of two players in particular – Cam Birch, who scored four of the Grizzlies’ tries, and David Hoang.

“[Hoang] was a machine out there,” he said. “He’s fearless, and isn’t afraid to tackle the biggest guy on the pitch.

“Those were definitely a couple standouts. It was just good to see a lot of new faces and see how they played. It was a great first outing and I was pretty proud of them.”

The Grizzlies are typically one of the more competitive teams in the CRU. The Cochrane-based team finished second in the league last year, losing a heart-breaker to the Banff Bears in the division’s championship game.

Banff is typically a rival for Bow Valley, and the two teams’ showdowns against each other are always labelled as the “Battle of the Bears.”

According to Hawes, the Grizzlies will take on the Bears three times during the regular season in 2023. Two of those games will be held in Cochrane, while the other one will be played in Banff.

Considering how last season ended for the Grizzlies, Hawes agreed redemption will be on the minds of Bow Valley’s players whenever they line up against the Bears this season.

“The boys were pretty disappointed from the result in the final last year,” he said. “They definitely have a different mindset this year and are very focused on their goals. To play some exciting rugby against Banff is certainly one of them, so we’ll see how that works out for us this season. We have three games against them during the regular season, so those will be a fun test for the boys.”

Winning a championship is, of course, the Grizzlies’ long-term goal this season. But Hawes was quick to point out that it’s a lengthy season, and they’ve only played one game so far.

“I mean, that’s a long way away,” he said. “There are 12 games in the season. It was a great first game, but there are still 11 more to be played and then the playoffs start. As long as we keep working hard, the boys will get the results they want.”

Bow Valley has a bye this week, and will play their next competitive game on June 3, when they travel to Red Deer. After that, they'll be back in Calgary on June 10 to face the Calgary Irish.

Their first home game of 2023 will be at Mitford Park on June 17, which is also the Grizzlies’ annual club day, according to Hawes. The club day will be styled like a jamboree, and will also feature other Grizzlies' teams' games.

This year’s Grizzlies senior men’s roster is a mishmash of demographics, with players ranging from as young as 18 to as old as 45. Hawes said the bulk of the team resides in Cochrane, though some players do join from Calgary or Bragg Creek.

“It is really a Bow Valley team and there are guys from around the Bow Valley region,” he said. “It’s a pretty wide range, but they have a great time together. It is a game for everyone, and if anyone is looking to try a new sport, we’re always looking for new players, regardless of their history with rugby. We have a few of those who have never even played and just landed in the sport this year.”

Apart from the senior men’s team, the Bow Valley Grizzlies Rugby Club also includes a junior boys’ program for the U16 and U18 age groups, as well as a women’s program.

Hawes said the U16 and U18 teams will start their season in mid-June, after the high-school rugby season has wrapped up. as for the women’s program, he said that team has already started its 2023 season – the women train on Tuesdays and Thursdays, alongside the men’s team.

Hawes, who also coaches the junior teams, said the Grizzlies are still looking to recruit players for the U16, U18, and women's teams. He noted having prior experience in rugby is not necessarily a prerequisite.

“If anyone is looking to try something out and join a good community, come out and play some rugby,” he encouraged.

For more info on the Grizzlies’ programs, visit

For scores, schedules, and other info regarding the senior men’s team, visit the CRU website at

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