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Cowichan, BC (ISN) – The 2012 British Columbia High School Girls Rugby Association (BCHSGRA) season kicks off this weekend with the annual Joe McGeachy Memorial Tournament in Cowichan.

Featuring teams from across Vancouver Island, the tournament hosted at Cowichan Rugby Club welcomes sides from Brentwood College, Ladysmith, GP Vanier, Cowichan High School, Port Alberni, Walnut Grove and Shawnigan Lake School. These squads are seven of the 60 high school girls teams competing for provincial titles this year.

Inter-zone competition for the 2012 BCHSGRA season runs from early March through the end of April when zone play downs kickoff. The five zones for 2012 are Vancouver, Vancouver Island, Fraser Valley, Okanagan and Cariboo. The 15-a-side provincial championships are then slated for May 24-26 at Capilano Rugby Club, located on the North Shore. Provincials will feature Triple-A, Double-A and Tier Two Divisions, each consisting of eight teams.

In the Triple-A division, the Carson Graham Eagles will look to add to their haul of seven provincial championships in the past eight years. The Eagles went undefeated in 2011, capping off the season with a 50-0 victory over the Cowichan Thunderbirds in the provincial final at Brentwood College. The 2011 Double-A title went to Heritage Park out of Mission, when they defeated Shawnigan Lake School 3-0. The Tier Two division was won by Robert Bateman out of Abbotsford who downed Williams Lake 34-0 in the provincial final.

Key dates on the 2012 high school calendar to also take note of are the Kamloops Rugby Fest (April 13-14), Shawnigan Lake School Sevens (April 21st) and the BC Rugby High School Sevens, set for April 13-14 at UBC. The BC Rugby Sevens event in April will feature 20 teams from across the province, competing in the high-tempo, abbreviated version of the game. With the world’s top ranked women’s national sevens program now training full time in British Columbia, it is only fitting that major sevens events are being held across the province at the age grade level.

A number of Canada’s top internationals played their high school rugby in British Columbia before going on to post secondary and representative rugby. 2011 Canada West Women’s Rugby Rookie of the Year and Canadian national team standout Kayla Moleschi was a Columneetza Secondary (Williams Lake) grad, as was 2010 Rookie of the Year Megan Hamm out of Aldergrove, BC. The list of recent BCHSGRA grads also includes Carson Graham’s Nicola Jones who captained BC’s Under-18 women’s team to a silver medal at the 2011 National Festival, as well as Kamloops product Jesse Olynyk who led British Columbia’s Under-23 team to a Tier 2 championship at last year’s National Women’s League Finals.

“The most important thing is the continuous development of the game. It is great that our high school girls are able to see women’s rugby achieving success on the international stage,” said Brad Baker, BCHSGRA President. “Watching Canada do well internationally gives these young players a goal to work towards.”

For more information and updates on the BC High School Girls Rugby season, visit www.highschoolgirlsrugby.webs.com