Vikes go 3-0 on Day 1 of Canada West Women’s Rugby Sevens Series

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EDMONTON – The opening day of the pioneering Canada West Women’s Rugby Sevens Series was an unqualified success as a big crowd turned up and stuffed inside The Dome at Foote Field to watch the historic tournament.

A total of nine games were played on Day 1, in front of a capacity crowd in the newly erected air-supported dome over Foote Field, and the two top teams from the Canada West 15 season, the Victoria Vikes and Calgary Dinos, did not disappoint in sevens play, as they each sit atop the table with identical 3-0 records.

“First off, I’m just really happy,” said an elated Matt Parrish, head coach of the University of Alberta Pandas and tournament organizer. “This is awesome. I mean, look around, we’re playing a high performance rugby sevens tournament in the middle of January in Edmonton. This has been a great opening day and a great start to rugby sevens at the university level.”

The Dinos and Vikes were the cream of the crop in 15s play earlier this season, with Calgary defeating Victoria in the conference gold medal game before going on to collect bronze at the national championship. At the inaugural Canada West rugby seven series, the Vikes picked up victories over host Alberta (26-21), the UFV Cascades (31-5), who are debuting in rugby in conference play this weekend, and the UBC Thunderbirds (31-17). Calgary, meanwhile, earned wins over UFV (40-0), UBC (24-19) and Lethbridge (26-10).

The host Pandas, who fell behind 21-0 to Victoria in opening minutes of the very first game, are 2-1, with wins over the Pronghorns (26-7) and Cascades (38-5), while Lethbridge is 1-2 thus far, and both the Thunderbirds and Cascades are 0-3.

“Today was the first day, you know, and the first day of competition at this level for all the teams, and all the players, and I know that’s just going to get better and better from here,” said Parrish. “The encouraging part is that this was the first day of the first of three tournaments and there will be more opportunity to develop and get better and advance the athletes, the sport and the league.”

Originally announced after the conclusion of the conference rugby 15s season, the Canada West Women’s Rugby Sevens Series is a partnership between the conference, B2ten and Rugby Canada, and is targeted at providing Canadian female student-athletes the opportunity to pursue the game of rugby sevens at home.

The final day of the opening tournament will get underway at 10:00 a.m. MST when the two winless teams, UFV (0-3) and UBC (0-3), meet, followed by Lethbridge (1-2) vs. Victoria (3-0) at 10:25 a.m. and Calgary (3-0) vs. Alberta (2-1) at 10:50 a.m.

Round 1

Game 1: Victoria Vikes (26) vs. Alberta Pandas (21)

Scoring summary:
VIC: 21-5: 26
ALB: 14-7: 21

VIC try – #7 Maddie Graham (#7 Madeleine Graham Convert) – 7-0
VIC try – #3 Pam Buisa (#4 Julia Folk Convert) – 14-0
VIC try – #8 Gabby Senft (#10 Jess Neilson Convert) – 21-0
ALB try – #22 Emily Cook (#22 Emily Cook Convert) – 21-7
ALB try – #10 Sarah Farley (#15 Aline Wicklum Convert) – 21-14

Half-time

ALB try – #6 Alexa Martin (#15 Convert) 21-21
VIC try – #7 Maddie Graham (convert missed) 26-21

Round 2

Game 4: Victoria Vikes (31) vs. UFV Cascades (5)

Scoring summary:
VIC: 5-26: 31
UFV: 5-0: 5

VIC try – #2 Jamie Beck (convert missed) – 5-0
UFV try – #7 Chelsea Fowler (convert missed) – 5-5

Half-time

VIC try – #1 Madison Aberg (#10 Jess Neilson Convert) 12-5
VIC try – #2 Jamie Beck (convert missed) 17-5
VIC try – #11 Ashah Payson (#10 Jess Neilson Convert) 24-5
VIC try – #11 Gurpeet Dhaliwal (#10 Jess Neilson Convert) 31-5

Round 3

Game 7: Victoria Vikes (31) vs. UBC Thunderbirds (17)

Scoring summary:
VIC: 14-17: 31
UBC: 12-5: 17

VIC try – #4 Julia Folk (#10 Jess Neilson convert) – 7-0
UBC try – #10 Nikki Mallow (Brooke Bazlan convert) – 7-7
VIC try – #3 Pamphinette Buisa (#10 Jess Neilson convert) – 14-7
UBC try – #4 Brooke Bazlan (convert missed) – 14-12

Half-time

VIC try – #5 Chanelle Edwards-Challenger (convert missed) – 19-12
UBC try – #7 Ciara Malone (convert missed) – 19-17
VIC try – #8 Gabrielle Senft (#16 Stephanie Black convert) – 26-17
VIC try – #11 Ashah Payson (convert missed) – 31-17

Tournament standings
            W        L          T          Pts.
VIC       3          0          0          12
CGY     3          0          0          12
ALB      2          1          0          8
LET      1          2          0          4
UFV     0          3          0          0
UBC     0          3          0          0

NOTE: Teams are awarded 4 pts. for a win, 2 pts. for a draw, and 1 pt. for a loss.

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