The BC Rugby Women's Adidas Premiership regular season wraps up this Saturday and one team looking to make their mark in the playoffs is newcomers Simon Fraser University. After going 1-8 in their return to Premiership rugby in 2012, SFU has turned things around this year with player recruitment and a new coach at the helm to secure the fourth and final playoff berth. Regardless of this weekend's result against Burnaby Lake (4-1), SFU will hold on to at least fourth place heading into the semifinals on April 27th.
Women's Adidas Premiership - Sat. April 20th:
SFU at Burnaby Lake (Burnaby Lake Sports Complex) 11:30am
UVic Vikes at Velox Valkyries (Velox RFC) 11:30am
Bayside Sharks at Capilano RFC (Klahanie Park) 11:30am
"We began the season without a coach but luckily we had Dave Brown join us in November to take over the SFU women's coaching position," said Captain Christina Burnham. "Dave brings a vast knowledge of rugby and high level coaching experience to the team and I feel like that has contributed to much of our success."
SFU is a club in the midst of a youth movement with several players rising through the ranks of regional and provincial level programs. For the first time in six years, the club is fielding two women's teams in BC Rugby Union competitions. During the revived Ruth Hellerud-Brown Cup this past January and February, seven players represented Vancouver at the rep level including Burnham, December Turcato-Woodward, Kasia Laczny, Demi Stamatakis, Megan Banford, Natasha LaLonde and Jessica Firman. Stamatakis - a graduate of BC's U23 provincial team - has been a key member of the offence and leads the Adidas Premiership in try scoring with nine tallies. Burnham currently sits 10th in league scoring, having recorded four tries and a convert for 22 points.
Two new recruits also making their mark this season are Gleneagle graduate and second row standout Lisa Snyder as well as soccer player turned winger Sarah Paget who adds another threat to the SFU back line with her pace.
All of their young players will be tested this weekend when they face perennial finalists Burnaby Lake (4-1) in the season finale. A win could see SFU take third place but a loss would still see them through to the semis.
"We are just trying to take things one game at a time and to not get too far ahead of ourselves," added Burnham. "This team has come a long way and we are very proud of the success we have had thus far. We are constantly working to improve our rugby skills both as individuals and as a team. As our coach has stressed, it's about the process, not the outcome."
Burnaby boast the league's leading scorers in Julia Sugawara (57 points) and Genevieve Gratton (49 points) and will also be eyeing a home semifinal fixture.
"Burnaby always has a strong team with lots of depth and experience," added Burnham. "Their 9-10 connection is very strong and we expect their backs to challenge us with their hard running centres and speed out wide. Their pack is also very powerful and experienced so we'll need our forwards to compete well in the sets and contact points in order to get the ball out to our backs."
The Adidas Premiership fixture is currently scheduled for 11:30am on Saturday at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex.
Around the league
Currently ranked in first place with 25 points, United Rugby Club (5-1) have a bye this weekend and will eagerly await the other results on Saturday to see where they finish in the standings. The defending Gordon Harris Memorial Cup champs Velox Valkyries (4-1) currently have 21 points and a win over the UVic Vikes (1-3-0-1) could see them go top of the table. The no. 5 Bayside Sharks (1-4) will be away to no. 7 Capilano RFC (0-5) to close out their season.