In 2011, the football rivalry between Saskatoon and Regina saw a new addition with the formation of the Western Women’s Canadian Football League and two of it’s founding teams: the Regina Riot and the Saskatoon Valkyries.
Things started off as you might expect based on the recent football history of the two cities, with Saskatoon taking an early advantage in the rivalry. Eight year Regina Riot veteran Trisha Jattansingh explains:
“The Valkyries came into the WWCFL already a powerhouse. They were miles ahead of any other team in the league. I remember the first game we played against them, we were beaten 62 – 2. I still remember that feeling.”
It was like this a lot over the ensuing seasons, as the Valkyries racked up four consecutive WWCFL Championships. The Riot eventually improved to the point of being able to beat their provincial rivals occasionally during the regular season, but never when it mattered.
That changed in 2015.
“Beating the Valkyries to advance to the WWCFL Championship in 2015 was a really great moment” recalls Riot Head Coach Olivier Eddie. “The Valkyries were almost able to execute an incredible comeback, but we were able to drive down the field and kick a game-winning field goal with seconds remaining.”
This victory seemed to signal a turning point in the rivalry between the two teams. Beginning that year, the Riot & Valkyries have alternated WWCFL Championship wins. Since that time, neither team has managed a clean sweep of the other during the course of a single season.
Second year Regina Riot player Aly Bell provides a unique perspective on the rivalry, having spent two seasons with the Saskatoon Valkyries as well. She outlines the similarities between the two programs that make them such great rivals:
“A big part of the Riot/Valkyries rivalry stems from how elite both programs have become. Athletes from both programs train year round to better themselves on the field. Players on both sides are passionate, smart and dedicated. They work their butts off. They’re all elite athletes, and no athlete likes to lose.”
But there are differences between the two teams as well.
“My experiences between the two teams are incomparable” continues Bell. “I learned the game and fell in love with it during my first two seasons with the Valkyries. The culture in Saskatoon is just completely different than the culture here with the Riot. It’s not a bad thing. One isn’t better than the other. It’s just different.”
And Bell is happy she made the jump.
“Coming to Regina for my third season was a tough decision, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I was able to adjust to the culture immediately. The coaches here are top notch. I was able to learn the game through a completely different set of eyes and from different coaching styles, which only bettered me as a player.”
In 2018, the Riot remain one step ahead of their toughest competitors. The reigning WWCFL Champions were able to go into Saskatoon three weeks ago and hand the Valkyries at 28 – 7 loss on their home field.
“I have seen the rivalry evolve over our 8 years in the league” explains Jattansingh. “We are no longer chasing the Valks, trying to catch up to them. Now we’re the ones being chased.”
Regina hopes to sustain their recent success when the two teams meet again this weekend with first place in the Prairie Conference on the line. That game takes place on Sunday, June 3rd at Mosaic Stadium. Kickoff is at 2pm. Tickets are available online or at the door.