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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

May 8, 2015, Victoria, BC (ISN) – On an absolutely glorious day for rugby, the Claremont Spartans rolled to the Lower Vancouver Island Senior Girls High School Rugby Championship with a 26-12 win over the Reynolds Roadrunners at Westhills Stadium on Friday afternoon in Victoria.

Claremont’s Payton Cochrane (right) gives a pretty good stiff arm to Oak Bay’s Kelsey White during a semi-final match-up Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

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Esquimalt’s Randi Hanuse (with ball) evades the grasp of a Stelly’s defender during a round-robin match Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Spartans and Roadrunners were two of the top six teams in the eleven team league who were playing in a final round robin tournament to decide the champions. Other top six teams qualifying for the finals included Belmont, Esquimalt, Oak Bay and Stellys.

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Esquimalt’s Alysha Mosven charges upfield as a Stelly’s defender tries for the tackle (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

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Stelly’s Stinger Madison Paquette looks for an option among a trio of Esquimalt defenders (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Both Claremont (second in league play during the season) and Reynolds (third in league play) proceeded through the round robin portion of the tournament undefeated, with Claremont then defeating first place Oak Bay and Reynolds defeating fourth place Belmont in the semi-finals to advance to the championship game.

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Oak Bay’s Nicola Horwood sprints by a pair of Claremont defenders during a semi-final match on Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

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Oak Bay’s AJ Lafayette let’s out a scream as she looks to pass the ball to a teammate and under pressure from Claremont’s Payton Cochrane (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In the finals, the quicker and bigger Claremont team jumped out to a quick 19-7 lead and coasted to the win in the quickly played “sevens” format. The Spartan’s Payton Cochrane, Elysse Pereira and Shaye Tudor all had strong games in the final to lead their team to the win. Summer Seagrave-Peel, Michelle Shah and Maeve Maguire had good performances in the losing effort for the Roadrunners.

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Reynold’s Michelle Shaw (with ball) appears to punch Belmont’s Alexis Dunning (right) in the jaw, while being tackled by Belmont’s Frelen Gorst (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

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Claremont’s Payton Cochrane heads upfield during the final against Reynolds (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Championship tournament and Claremont’s win capped off what has been a tremendous growth year for high school girls’ rugby and marked the third different team in three years to win the title (Reynolds and Belmont being the previous two champions).

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Reynold’s Summer Seegrave-Peel is all focus as she eludes a Claremont defender during this run in the championship final (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

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Claremont’s Elysse Pereira evades the tackle of Reynold’s Maeve Maguire in the championship final (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

“We started out just over three years ago with only three female teams at the club level, ” said David Crossley, Director of Female Rugby at Castaway Wanderers Rugby Club, “and now we are up to 11 teams at the high school level this year.”

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Claremont’s Shayne Tudor is lofted high by her teammates as she raises the championship cup after their 26-12 win over Reynolds (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

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The Claremont Spartans raise the Championship Cup after their 26-12 win over Reynolds (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

“We can thank the Women’s National Rugby team for helping that growth,” added Crossley. “In that first year when we went from three teams to nine, they helped out at practices quite a bit and they still play a big role with the teams, but more importantly serve as role models that motivate the girls to get involved in the sport.”

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The 2015 Lower Vancouver Island Senior Girls Rugby Champion Claremont Spartans (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Additional photos from the day’s action can be found on Christian J. Stewart’s web site at http://christianjstewart.zenfolio.com/p77061743

Follow Christian J. Stewart on Twitter at @cjs_photography and Independent Sports News @islandsports1.