ABBOTSFORD, BC - The BC Rugby age grade club finals are in full swing this weekend with a number of divisions wrapping up the Fall season. The schedule will be highlighted by Sunday afternoon's Under-18 women's provincial final between reigning champions Abbotsford RFC and Cowichan Rugby Club.
Led by Rugby Canada Female Coach of the Year Jen Ross, Abbotsford's U18 program went undefeated again this season posting a 4-0-1 record. The Abby women will be up against Vancouver Island reps Cowichan Rugby Club who posted a perfect 5-0 record.
"Cowichan is always a tough competitor and they always have size and skill," Ross said. "Their coaches are first rate and with the inclusion of the Brentwood [College] girls they will be a force. This is the level that we need these girls to be playing at every single week throughout the season."
Cowichan will be coached by Brad Skene who led Cowichan Secondary to a pair of provincial titles in 2012-13 at the BC High School Girls Rugby Association Sevens and 15s championships. Skene is also returning as head coach for the BC Under-18 women's provincial sevens team and will be taking the program down to Vegas for the 2014 High School Invitational.
The U18 division continued to grow this season with the addition of four new sides. While many of the games were played in an exhibition format, newcomers Velox, Comox, Langley and Abbotsford-2 have paved the way for a stronger competition in years to come.
Ross's program at Abbotsford had so many numbers that they fielded two teams this year. Their players have faired well against U18 competition and some even went on to play some senior rugby this Fall. In the Gobbler, Abbotsford's annual Thanksgiving tournament, Abby's U18 team went toe-to-toe with the senior side in the final and lost by just two points.
It was a year of transition for Abbotford's roster with many of last year's leadership group graduating from the program.
"Having lost [Provincial reps] Tiffany PIcketts and Shelby Pihl from last year it real opened up the door to let some new leadership shine through," Ross added. "We have had so many girls step up, especially when I divided the teams for the two games that it gave a lot of the senior girls a chance to take on some new roles."
When asked about who the top players have been this year, Ross mentioned that there were too many to mention but indicated Nakisa Levale, Sidney Stoltz and Chantal McLean have impressed coming off their summer campaigns at Nationals.
The 2012 U18 women's club final saw Abbotsford down Bayside 29-5. Cowichan was the last team other than Abbotsford to capture the U18 provincial title when they defeated Bayside 10-8 back in 2010.
U18 Women's Provincial Finals Results
2012: Abbotsford 29, Bayside 5
2011: Abbotsford 34, Bayside 7
2010: Cowichan 10, Bayside 8
2009: Cowichan 24, United 10
2008: United 18, Abbotsford 10
2007: Capilano 22, Cowichan 17
2006: Cowichan def United
FULL WEEKEND AGE GRADE SCHEDULE
Women's Under-18 - Sun. November 24th:
PROVINCIAL FINAL: Cowichan at Abbotsford (CFV Exhibition) 1:00pm
Lower Mainland U19 Men - Sat. November 23rd:
TIER 1 SEMIFINAL: Capilano at Bayside (South Surrey Athl Park) 10:00am
TIER 1: UBCOB Ravens Bye to final (NOTE: Ravens to host final on Nov 30th)
TIER 2 SEMIFINAL: Kelowna at no.1 United (Hume Park) 11:30am
TIER 2 SEMIFINAL: Surrey at no.2 Langley (Crush Cresecent) 10:00am
Lower Mainland U17 Men - Sun. November 24th:
TIER 1 SEMIFINAL: no.4 UBCOB Ravens at no.1 Capilano (Klahanie Park) 12:30pm
TIER 1 SEMIFINAL: no. 3 Bayside at no. 2 Abbotsford (CFV Exhibition) 11:30am
TIER 2 FINAL: Brit Lions/Langley/Surrey at Richmond/Burnaby (King George Park) 12:30pm
TIER 2 CONSOLATION: United at Chilliwack (Yarrow) 12:30pm
U16 PLAYOFF: Bayside at Capilano (Klahanie Park) 12:30pm
Lower Mainland U15 Boys - Sun. November 24th:
FINAL: Capilano at Abbotsford (CFV Exhibition) 10:00am
CONSOLATION: Surrey at Bayside (South Surrey Athl Park) 10:00am
Island U18 Men - Sun. November 24th:
FINAL: Comox Kickers at Castaway Wanderers (Windsor Park) 2:30pm
Island U16 Boys - Sun. November 24th:
FINAL: Velox at Castaway Wanderers (Windsor Park) 1:00pm
U14/U13 Boys - Sun. November 24th:
7s Festival hosted by Abbotsford RFC (Yale Secondary School) 12:30-3:00pm