Vancouver, BC – December 3, 2019: The 2019 BC Rugby Junior Girls’ Club titles were decided during an exciting day of competition held at the UBC Thunderbird Stadium this weekend. Castaway Wanderers RFC and Abbotsford RFC contested both the U16 and U19 Finals, each team walking away with a victory. Abbotsford RFC took the U16 Title while Castaway Wanderers took the U19 Final. A mix of Westshore RFC and James Bay AA, playing as WestBays, claimed the U16 third-place match over a spirited mix of United RFC and Ridge Meadows Bruins RFC.
Awards were handed out by BC Rugby Board members Tanya Donaldson and Brad Baker and the players were treated to an exhilarating BC Senior Women’s XV exhibition batch between BC Blue and BC Gold. This provided a fantastic spectacle for the younger athletes watching from the stands as twilight settled over Thunderbird Stadium.
Watch full match replays of each game on our YouTube channel. Photo Gallery published Wednesday.
U16s – Third Place Match
WestBays (Westshore RFC & James Bay AA) 27 – 14 United (United RFC / Ridge Meadows RFC)
Both of these sides were a welcome return to the 2019 Girls’ Club Finals, indicating the growing strength and depth of rugby on the South Island and Fraser Valley respectively. A cold start to the day and some early nerves on both sides resulted in a slow start to the game as both sides tried to settle. The scrum became a big factor for both teams, with No.8s Phoenix Skailes and Kianna Steel respectively commanding WestBays’ and United’s packs and putting in some very strong solo runs. Indeed, Skailes opened the scoring for WestBays after five minutes and the Island team controlled the first half, securing two further tries including an exceptional solo run from Leila Williams from deep in her own half. Westbays took a comfortable 15-0 lead into half-time.
United came out fighting in the second half of the game, Ella Finding sprinting from her own 5m line to get her team on the board. Finding used her lightning speed again minutes later to beat WestBays on the outside and cross for a second try, Kianna Steel’s boot making easy work of both conversions to bring them to within one point, 15-14. This set up a fantastic showdown in the last 10minutes of the game. WestBays camped out on the United 5m line, both packs scrummaging furiously. United repelled attack after attack but eventually were undone with a bold run from Charlotte Benson during broken play. With a six-point lead (20-14) WestBays could hardly sit back and cruise, with United still determined to get in front.
No one needed to tell them twice. Almost straight off the restart, Brooke Chambers received the ball and picked an excellent line to scythe straight through the United defence, securing WestBays’ fifth try of the game and, with the added conversion, all but putting the game out of sight (27-14). Both teams were in tremendous spirits after the game with smiles and laughter all round. A testament to the positive culture that is becoming synonymous with girls rugby in BC.
U16s – Championship Match
Abbotsford RFC 46 – 29 Castaway Wanderers
Abbotsford came into this match as defending champions, but it was clear from the opening exchanges that this game could go either way. Neither side was afraid of running hard into contact and both happy to use the full width of the field to seek out gaps in their opponents’ defence. Abbotsford struck first, Ireland Chapman diving over in the far corner, but Castaway Wanderers (CW) responded with a strong run from Jesse Knaggs. What followed was a veritable try-fest with Abbotsford crossing another 4 times, Riley Mae Willems adding two conversions, and CW returning with three tries of their own (including a brace from Adia Pye), leaving the score 29-22 at the half. Both players and spectators were glad to catch their breath before the match resumed.
Both sides had proved their scoring potential already, but the team that could up their defensive integrity first was always likely to get some advantage. Abbotsford started to control the pace much more in the second half, frustrating CW attacks and applying pressure all over the field. Two more tries from Abbotsford put the pressure on CW who, to their credit, refused to stop chasing game. Adia Pye clinched a personal hat-trick after some great team play from CW to pull them back to a ten-point gap (39-29). But moments later, Betsabe Flores crossed under the posts for her second try of the match to put Abbotsford up 46-29, effectively sealing the game and helping the Fraser Valley side retain the U16 Junior Girls’ Club Title.
Once again huge congratulations to players on both teams for such an entertaining match. If these teams are an indicator of the future of girls’ rugby in BC, there is plenty to be excited about for years to come.
U19s – Championship Match
Abbotsford RFC 10 – 70 Castaway Wanderers RFC
The Abbotsford and CW U19 teams were treated to a warm welcome as they took to the field, Running out through a tunnel of cheering U16 players. The fixture was a repeat of the 2018 Final, a match that CW won, adding to heightened anticipation ahead of kick-off. Like a mirror image of their U16 counterparts, but with everything dialled up to 11, the opening exchanges were fast and full of energy. Abbotsford were first on the scoreboard, a powerful solo run by the no.10 from deep inside her own half, shrugging off two last-ditch tackles as the try line approached. CW didn’t take long to respond, Danielle Leipoldt crashing over from close range and Lucy Beauchemin adding the conversion to give CW a 7-5 lead.
That flurry out of their systems, the two sides spent the next 10mins sizing each other up, testing defensive lines and moving the action around the park. Then Marina Skakun shook everything up, picking up the ball off the back of a scrum and bulldozing her way four defenders to add CW’s second try, Beauchemin again adding the conversion. Before the end of the second half, CW would unleash what would prove to be a very effective weapon in their attacking arsenal: the maul. On the build-up to their third try, they covered nearly 30m of territory before being halted. Abbotsford fought valiantly but had no response for the rumbling power coming from the Island team. Their second maul in as many minutes took them to within 5m of the line and Sophia Tafel darted over the line to claim CW’s third try. Abbotsford pushed hard, unleashing some very fast-moving backs but were unable to cross the try line again in that half, leaving the score at 21 – 5 as the teams swapped ends.
When the game resumed, CW once again looked to wrestle control as quickly as possible. Their line speed caused Abbotsford problems all day long, giving the Fraser Valley side precious little time to ship the ball out wide. Deep in the Abbotsford 22m, a sudden interception put CW in an unexpected attacking position and Chloe Hill-Huse punched her way through the final defenders and under the posts to keep CW’s tally ticking upwards. The Island team seemed to sense that the game was theirs for the taking. Abbotsford were by no means a pushover, but CW were just more clinical in their execution, quicker with their line speed and ability to generate those marginal gaps that open up the game. Despite valiant defending from Abbotsford, who did secure a second try courtesy of a truly exceptional solo piece by Makenna Gayger, were unable to halt CW in their tracks. A slew of tries in the second half took the final score to 70-10 for Castaway Wanderers, comprehensively securing their status as the 2019 U19 Girls’ Club Final Champions.
Senior Women – Exhibition Match
BC Blue 34 – 10 BC Gold
Rounding off the day in style, the BC Senior Women’s XVs squad held an exhibition match between the BC Blue and BC Gold teams. This was a great showcase for the younger girls to aspire to but also to highlight the path a female athlete can take in BC. While there were some familiar veterans of previous years on the field including Tess Woldring, Laura Russel and Amanda Thornborough, it was exciting to see a swathe of new faces pulling on the BC Senior Women’s colours.
The action on the field was fast and furious, both teams relishing the chance to stretch their legs and apply some training ground strategies in a proper match. In total 11 different clubs or teams were represented on the field, showing great promise for the future at both club and Provincial level.
Speaking with Darcy Patterson, Rugby Development Manager – Women & Girls, it was clear that games like this are intended as a sign of things to come. “We wanted to provide a high-level competitive matchup up so we can build that foundation within athletes born or based in BC. The more strong competition we can provide domestically, the stronger rugby will be in BC and Canada.”
Given the satisfaction of both the players and the spectators, it seems likely that more of these matches would be welcomed. Not only do they help provide more consistent game time and high-level performance from the top female players in BC, but they serve as a great visual example of aspiration and progression for the girls currently competing at the junior levels. “The next step for Women in BC is participating in club rugby or CanWest 7s starting in mid-January,” said Patterson, “then the Senior program will start again in the Spring, commencing with a Best of the West tournament vs Alberta at the end of June.”
On a final note, it is important to recognise the two causes that were being supported this weekend. Charleigh’s Journey and The Monty Heald Fund are two incredibly worthy causes and BC Rugby would like to encourage readers to take a moment and read a little more about each by clicking on the links. We thank everyone who donated over the weekend. Finally, a huge thank you to the team staff, therapists, coaches, parents, match officials and UBC for helping to make the 2019 Junior Girls’ Club Finals such a success.
BC Senior Women’s XV Team Rosters: