DELTA, BC - John Oliver Park will play host to five women's club rugby finals on Saturday as the Vancouver-Fraser Valley regional finals wrap up for the Lower Mainland Tier One and Two competitions.
The Tier One 'Anna Schnell Cup' final will feature Seattle's Mudhens taking on undefeated Simon Fraser University. The Tier Two 'WCWRA Cup' final will see UBC-Okanagan Heat's women's side battling for their first major trophy against perennial finalists Abbotsford RFC.
Women's Lower Mainland Tier One - Sat. November 30th:
SHIELD FINAL: Capilano vs Burnaby Lake (John Oliver Park, Field 1) 10:30am
BOWL FINAL: Seattle vs Bayside (John Oliver Park, Field 1) 12:00pm
CUP FINAL: Mudhens vs SFU (John Oliver Park, Field 1) 2:30pm
Women's Lower Mainland Tier Two - Sat. November 30th:
BOWL FINAL: Brit Lions vs Ridge Meadows (John Oliver Park, Field 2) 11:30am
WCWRA CUP FINAL: UBCO Heat vs Abbotsford RFC (John Oliver Park, Field 2) 1:00pm
Anna Schnell Cup - SFU vs Mudhens
SFU have not lifted a trophy since the Fall 2010 season when their women's tier two side went undefeated in league play to post a 6-0 record. The winners that year were determined by league standings as heavy snow forced the cancellation of playoff rounds. SFU has since been promoted to the province's top tier Adidas Premiership and last year qualified for the playoffs before being eliminated in the semifinals.
The players put in several hours of fitness training and prep time during the off season and have since rallied off seven straight wins to earn the top seed heading into this weekend's Anna Schnell Cup Final against the 6-1 Mudhens.
"The season has been very successful for us," said SFU Captain Christina Burnahm. "It's not just that we have gone undefeated this half but we have made great strides as a team in several areas of our game. We have a very committed group of girls that push each other to improve their skills, fitness and work ethic each week."
SFU leads the league in both offence and defence and has allowed just 8.9 points per game against. One of their major margins of victory came against the Mudhens on October 5th in a 71-17 decision. The Mudhens rallied back with five straight wins, including a 77-10 semifinal victory over defending champions Bayside on November 23rd.
"We know their forward pack is strong in set pieces and at contact points and we expect them to challenge us tight during open play," Burnham added. "They also have a lot of pace out side that we'll need to pressure and shut down early."
Key returnees on SFU's roster include Julie Plummer (Chow) who is back after having a baby last February as well as Lisa Grant who makes her return after spending a year in Australia.
"At number 8, [Lisa] is a strong runner and ball carrier and makes a huge impact at contact points around the field. Her return completes the sister trio of Erin Grant and Amy Grant," Burnham added.
Key players to also watch include BC senior women's provincial rep Jessica Firman, full back Megan Banford and Amanda Foster who is a force in both the back row and second row.
Key players to watch out for on the Mudhens include leading scorers Ashley Kiniecik and Kristine Summer.
"As a team if we play our game and stay focused and disciplined, we can create opportunities all over the field," Burnham added. "Our scrums are very powerful and with lots of pace and skill, our back line is a sure threat."
Kickoff for the Tier One finals gets underway at 10:30am with Capilano and Burnaby Lake battling for the Shield. The Bowl Final will feature Seattle against Bayside at 12:00pm. Kicking off at 11:30am, the Bowl FInal of the Tier Two competition sees Brit Lions scrumming down against Ridge Meadows. The Tier Two WCWRA Final will feature the UBC-Okanagan Heat against Abbotsford RFC.
Anna Schnell Cup
A long standing member of Canada’s National team and club member of Burnaby Lake Rugby Club, Anna has recently retired from International rugby. Her list of accomplishments on and off the field is remarkable and was highlighted by representing her country at the highest level on the World stage. In the World Cup in England, Schnell was the second-highest scorer. In 2010, Schnell was recognized as 'BC Rugby Union Female Athlete of the Year'. During her last season, she captained her Club, Burnaby Lake to a provincial title.
Anna has been a big advocate for rugby at the club, provincial and National levels for the years she has been with Burnaby Lake and is now based in Victoria where she has been a key supporter and coach at the Castaway Wanderers.
West Coast Women's Rugby Association Cup
Prior to joining the BC Rugby Union in 2004, the Women’s rugby competition in British Columbia fell under the West Coast Women’s Rugby Association which was run by a dedicated group of Women who made great strides for women’s rugby in the province. The trophy is named in honour of their efforts with the name of the Tier Two Mainland Championship.