Vancouver, December 3rd, 2017 - A crisp, bright morning heralded the start of a fantastic day of rugby at the Gerald McGavin Rugby Centre at UBC, the location for the BC Rugby Girls' Age-Grade Finals. Players came from across the Lower Mainland and Island to battle it out for glory on the last day of the season. With action in the U14, U16 and U18 divisions, there was plenty to keep the gathered crowds of spectators cheering throughout the day.
The U14 competition saw a round robin of Rugby Sevens between teams from Abbotsford, Langley & United. There was plenty of exciting breaks and touchline runs on display, as well as some frantic defensive tackles. Some of the players on the field were coming to the end of their first ever season of competitive team rugby, having been on quite a journey since their first training sessions just months ago. It was fantastic for the younger players to get a chance to be part of the event, as well as the opportunity to watch the action unfold in the U16 and U18 games later in the day.
In the U16 Division, the first action of the day came from Bayside Sharks and South Vancouver Island (James Bay AA, Castaway Wanderers, Westshore) as they contested the Third Place match. A closely contested game, South Island used their strength to run some powerful, direct lines to break through the defence. Bayside weren't to be outdone though, using their speed to exploit space down the wings. Ath the end of an engaging match, it was Bayside who sealed the victory with a 24-20 win, securing third place.
Following this was the U16 Final, where Abbotsford took on North Vancouver Island (Campbell River, Cowichan, Comox Valley, Nanaimo & Port Alberni) for the title. Both sides showed they had plenty of pace, with a number of exciting foot races drawing cheers from the watching crowd. But it wasn't just a game for the sprinters, as both sides ground out tries by inching towards the line through consecutive phases. Despite a resilient performance from Abbotsford, they couldn't quite match their Island opponents on the day. As the final whistle sounded, North Island voices cheered in delight and celebrated their 25-15 victory. All smiles and adrenaline-fueled excitement, the team was crowned champions by BC Rugby Board Member Connie McGinley, prompting a slew of photographs from proud parents and coaches alike.
The U18 Division matches started with a consolation match between Burnited (Burnaby & United) and a Barbarian team comprised of players from Ridge Meadows, Brit Lions and Capilano. The opening match on the upper field, the teams were bathed in the warm December sun as play got underway. Solid displays of teamwork from both sides delivered an exciting battle for the early morning spectators. Following this match, Richilano (Richmond & Capilano) took the field against a team from North Vancouver Island to compete for Third Place. Richilano were the early aggressors, securing a couple of scintillating tries. Their Island opponents were not going to give up so easily though, putting up a staunch defence and making some impressive breaks up the field when they secured possession. Despite some passionate performances, they couldn't stop Richilano edging ahead as the clock ticked on. At full time, Richilano emerged victorious, winning 34-19 in a thoroughly exciting encounter.
The last match of the day was the U18 Final between Abbotsford and South Vancouver Island. The low winter sun was casting a glow over the field as the match kicked off, with South Island playing into the glare. This didn't seem to affect them though, as they quickly notched up a series of tries down either wing. Abbotsford responded with some charging runs, eventually crashing over the line to respond. It was a highly competitive match, both sides getting creative with their attacks. Equally, there were a couple of noteworthy try saving tackles at both ends of the field, the determination from all 30 players clear to those looking on from the stands. Despite some great tactical kicking and passionate pay from Abbotsford, they were unable to stop the rampaging islanders. At the final whistle, it was South Island who emerged on top, winning 32-17. As sunset it up the skies, BC Rugby President Sam Shorter was on hand to congratulate the champions. Camera flashes lit up the jubilant faces in the fading light as the BC Rugby Girls' Age-Grade finals came to a close.
BC Rugby would like to thank all of the coaches and volunteers who helped make the event a success, along with the support from countless family and friends. A big thank you as well to the match officials for their part in proceedings. Finally, congratulations to all the players that took part, we're already looking forward to next year!
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