The High School Girls’ XVs Provincial Championships came to a close this weekend after three days of fantastic rugby action at the Shawnigan Lake and Brentwood College schools on Vancouver Island. Both schools have world-class facilities and a history of rugby championships in their respective tiers, and were excellent hosts for the tournament.
Organizers Marius Felix, Shannon Atkins and Tim Murdy did an outstanding job alongside Brad Baker, who completes his final Provincial Championships as BCHSGRA President after 16 years. Both Brad and Marius have been with the organization since its inception in 1994 and will be moving on next year, leaving the BCHSGRA in good hands with Marisa Meola set to become the new president.
75 teams competed in BCHSGRA action throughout the season, which were narrowed down to 24 teams in 3 divisions for the Provincial Championships.
The Kootenays team won the Tier 2 Championship in their first year competing in the BCHSGRA, being rewarded for the incredible effort dedicated to growing girls’ rugby in the Kootenays.
“Kootenays has never really placed in any kind of tournament like that,” Kootenays player Skylar Bell said. “It was the last tournament I would be playing with that group, and I was honoured to be there.”
Head Coach Sean Sinclair was impressed by how quickly and strongly the team came together and played as a unit, and hopes the gold-medal finish will be a boost to the growth of rugby in the region.
Vanier returned to the AA Championship game after winning it all in 2018, lining up across from a familiar opponent in North Kamloops. The defending champions entered the tournament as the top seed and were given a run for their money in their opening round match with Lillooet before defeating Langley in the semifinal to advance. After a grueling first half which saw Vanier escape with a 10-0 advantage, NorKam scored early to cut the lead to 5. Vanier were resilient though, scoring 25 straight points to secure the victory and capture the AA title.
Reining AAA champions Shawnigan Lake returned to this year’s final, doing so as a host of the tournament and bringing with them a great atmosphere for the championship game at their home ground. Perennial finalists Carson Graham, who have played in 10 of the last 15 championship games, fought hard to dethrone the hosts and tied the game after Shawnigan opened the scoring, but Shawnigan refused to give up their crown, scoring late in the first half to take a 10-7 lead into halftime. In the second half, BC U16s player Gracie McAllister scored two tries while the Shawnigan defence held strong as the hosts went back-to-back for the first time.