G.P. Vanier Towhees’ rugby talent continues to fly high.
The latest success story for the Courtenay program came Aug. 16-21 at the age-grade national championships in Toronto, where four Towhees helped the Team BC U18 Women capture the Canadian title.
Tyra Schaad, Neila Schaad, Olivia Kellinghusen and Dawson German were on the 25-player B.C. team that won three of four games. Team BC defeated Equipe Quebec 41-0 in their Day 1 opener on Aug. 16 then whipped Nova Scotia Keltics 56-15 on Day 3 (Aug. 18) before falling 24-20 to Ontario Storm on Day 4 (Aug. 19).
Despite that loss, B.C. picked up two bonus points (by scoring four tries and staying within seven points of the winner, which was the deciding factor in the round-robin series) to remain in the running for the gold. But B.C. faced a tough task on Day 6 in the Prairie Wolfpack, who at 3-0 had been the class of the tournament.
But as BC Rugby recounts, the team was more than up to the challenge:
“The BC U18 Women’s team rebounded from a disappointing performance against Ontario and defeated the Wolfpack 8-5 today at the Canadian Rugby Championships. The win secured the national championship for the team!
“B.C. put their counterparts under pressure throughout the game, starting with the set pieces and then getting into the attacking spaces of the opposition and taking away any room for them to effectively run. A win while preventing the Wolfpack from earning a bonus point was the difference.
“Led by Captain Sarah Klok, B.C.’s forwards tackled their hearts out on defence and when B.C. had the ball, plenty of ‘go forward’ was created by getting into gaps with excellent support play.
“B.C.’s backs also delivered on the defensive side of the ball and with the forwards, turned the Wolfpack over several times. A well executed 3/4 switch sprung Shalaya Valenzuela who supplied both pace and footwork to score.
“Hera Sfikas added a penalty to round out the scoring. The Wolfpack scored a well-earned try early in the first half, but then B.C.’s determined effort kicked in and secured the win. A great team effort was the difference.”
B.C. also won gold in the Men’s U16 and U18 divisions, silver in Women’s U16 (where Nicolette Vinnedge of Vanier was on the non-travelling reserve roster) and bronze in Senior Women. “It was a good tournament for B.C., proving that they remain the top province for producing young rugby talent, particularly up to the U18 level,” noted BC Rugby News.
“There are gaps to fix for sure, for example the drop off from gold in Women’s U18 to last place in Women’s U20 earlier this summer. The Men’s U19 team won gold in their division in July. Congratulations to the players and coaches.”
LINE OUTS BC Rugby notes Dawson German brought her Canada U18 experience to the nationals and provided a great deal of leadership…the U18s played in Seattle prior to coming to Ontario, preparing for the national championships with a two-game exhibition series against the USA Highschool All Americans…