Senior rugby team earns top 10 finish at provincials

The Chatelech Girls’ Rugby team ended their season on a high note, with two teams competing in the BC Rugby High School Girls’ Provincial Sevens Championship on April 25 and 26.

The Senior girls placed ninth overall and the Junior girls placed 12th in their tourney. This is a remarkable achievement, especially if one considers that all but four girls on the Senior team are actually Juniors who are playing up against older girls, half of the Chatelech girls are first-year players, and most of the schools Chatelech played were far bigger with well-funded rugby programs. 

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The Seniors opened with a tough match against Surrey’s Earl Marriott, who went undefeated to win the tourney. Their second match posted another loss against an excellent Kootenay team. The girls rallied for their match against Houston, walking away with a confidence-boosting 22-10 win with tries from Jessica Nelson and Tiffany Baldwin.

Day two opened with a very physical game against Prince George’s Duchess Park that ended with a decisive 22-5 win following tries from Tiffany Baldwin, Jessica Nelson and Kizzie Douglas. 

The highlight of the Seniors’ tourney was definitely their final game against Victoria’s Belmont Secondary, a rugby powerhouse and last year’s tournament champion. Belmont kicked off and immediately put pressure on our girls. However, Chatelech did an amazing job protecting and moving the ball and were quickly rewarded by a pair of tries from Jessica Nelson and Tiffany Baldwin, against a visibly surprised Belmont team.

Ever the fierce competitors, Belmont rallied to tie the game just before half time. Belmont then kicked deep into Chatelech’s territory and fought hard to gain possession. Our girls kept the ball through a nail-biting series, working it down the line and eventually into the hands of Cadence Tuplin, who managed to break through Belmont’s defenders and ran the field for another try followed by a conversion by Tiffany Baldwin to end the half.

The second half opened with another try from Tiffany Baldwin, following a phenomenal ruck by Zoe Younghusband that pushed two Belmont girls off what was their ball. However, Belmont were far from being done and scored again, making it a 24-17 game. The last minutes of the game were a long defensive stand by Chatelech, which ended at zero time with a try by Belmont. The game could have gone into overtime but Belmont missed their conversion kick, giving Chatelech a 24-22 victory in their best-played game yet.

Just like the Senior team, Chatelech’s Junior team’s tourney opened with losses to Junior Tourney winner Esquimalt and bronze-contender Kootenay, and a win against Langley’s DW Poppy. Day two posted losses to Houston and North Vancouver’s Handsworth.

Chatelech rarely fields two teams and this Junior team played well despite having limited experience playing without their Seniors, and against the best teams from across the province. 

This girls’ rugby team would not exist without coach Mike Clucas, who volunteered to start the program four years ago. Cam Dezura stepped up as assistant coach and leads the Junior team. Huge thanks also to coach Brian Scarr for his support, and to the many parents who’ve driven players to games, helped with fundraising and looked after them both at home and away.

– Submitted by Ron Nelson

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