neilson rugby uvic

VICTORIA – A trend of excellence is starting to grow for the UVic Vikes women’s rugby team. For the second year in a row the Vikes earned the right to battle with the best, as one of the eight teams that qualified for the U Sports National Championship Tournament.

With UVic playing host to the national championship a spot in the tournament was reserved for the Vikes, but this was a team determined to prove that they belong at the top, qualifying for the tournament by finishing second in Canada West.

While a 0-2 record at the national championship definitely wasn’t the way those involved with the team wanted the season to finish, the Vikes battled from beginning to end.
Seeded No. 8 in the tournament, the Vikes got the toughest quarter-final matchup possible, in the form of a Guelph Gryphons team that scored 503 points while only allowing 12 against in their regular season.

The Vikes weren’t intimidated by their opponent’s impressive record though, they scored the first eight points of the game and appeared to be headed for an upset victory before Guelph reeled off four tries in a 20-minute span. The Gyphons held on to win the game 33-27.

Having to regroup from the close loss and head back out onto the field one day later, the Vikes just kept on fighting. They got on the board first again and were up 10-5 over the Concordia Stingers at halftime. A Stingers push in the second half gave the team from Quebec a lead late in the game but a desperation try from Gabrielle Senft in the 70th minute sent the game into overtime. The Stingers pulled ahead with two tries in the extra frame and survived for the 29-20 victory.

Julia Folk was named a Second Team All-Canadian before the tournament, while Jess Neilson earned a spot on the Championship All-Star Team for her stellar performance at nationals.

A historic regular season took the Vikes into the playoffs. Building on a surprise berth at the national tournament last season, head coach Brittany Waters led the team to their first ever 3-1 record in just her second season in charge.

A 47-17 win over the UBC T-Birds to start the season was a sign of things to come. Barring a loss to the eventual national bronze-medal winners from the University of Calgary, the Vikes used a high-powered offence to record more than 40 points in all three of their regular season wins.

A narrow 22-17 victory over the Alberta Pandas in the Canada West Final Four took the Vikes to their second straight Canada West Championship game. For the second time in the season the Dinos proved to be too much for the Vikes though, as the team from Calgary rolled to a 29-14 victory.

Multiple Vikes were rewarded for their outstanding seasons. Folk, Neilson, Madeleine Graham and Chelsey Minter were all Canada West All-Stars.