The 2019 U16 Western Canadian Championships (WCC) wrapped up at Parkinson Recreation Park in Kelowna on Sunday after three exciting days of Age-Grade Rugby. Over 300 athletes took part representing boys and girls teams from BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. BC teams battled hard over the course of the championship and topped the standings in both the Boys and Girls divisions.
The lush fields at Parkinson Recreation Park provided the ideal playing surface and gathered crowds of spectators cheered enthusiastically from the sidelines throughout the tournament. Despite the intense summer heat, each team produced some exceptional rugby moments, the warm air full of shouts of encouragement.
Girls U16 Division
BC’s U16 Girls’ XV were one of the favourites going into the tournament and they did not disappoint, scoring over 100 points in their first two games alone. Hot on their heels were the BC U15 Girls’ XVs who, despite playing against older opponents, showed a great amount of tenacity and skill on the pitch, conceding just three tries in their opening four matches. Alberta Wolfpack also fielded two teams, their Black XVs and White XVs both playing powerful, direct rugby and challenging their opponents to work for every single point.
A welcome addition to the tournament for 2019 were the Girls’ U16 teams from Saskatchewan and Manitoba, having been absent in 2018. Both of these sides produced some entertaining rugby over the course of the tournament, showing grit and determination to the very end. Manitoba got the upper hand in both encounters between the sides, but Saskatchewan did not go down without a fight.
The camaraderie and positivity that shone from all six teams in the Girls U16 Division was palpable, a great demonstration of both the significant progress that has been made in the development of female rugby in recent years and what lies ahead. Gathering all of the players together at the end of the tournament, BC Rugby’s Head of Women’s and Girls’ Growth and Development Darcy Patterson commended the athletes on their performances, highlighting the opportunities that lie ahead for those seeking to step up on to the national stage.
“Tournaments like this are vital for these young players,” said Patterson, “they give them a chance to face new opponents with different tactics and strengths while challenging teams to take more ownership over their own performances. We’ve watched these teams really gel over this summer, the coaches have done a wonderful job on and off the field, and it will be exciting to see how the girls carry these successes into future seasons with club and school teams.”
Boys U16 Division
The physicality and athletic ability displayed during several of the matches in the Boys U16 Division could easily have led a casual observer to mistakenly think they were watching U18 level teams. Deft passes, hard charges, clever tactical work and high stamina levels provided some thoroughly entertaining matches that kept spectators on the edge of their seats.
In 2018, the BC U16 Boys’ Blue XV went undefeated in the tournament and they seemed determined to repeat this performance once again. They were forced to play hard for their victories, most noticeably from their own Provincial peers in the form of BC U16 Boys’ Gold and BC U15 Boys’. Both of these sides kept the Blue XVs to within just a single try in their final score lines, demonstrating an encouraging level of depth potential for future years. But its was once again a “Blue-wash”, as they topped the standings undefeated for the second year in a row.
Sniffing at their heels once again, the U16 Boys’ Gold XV put in an equally commendable performance, conceding just a single try more than the Blue XVs over the three days and finishing in second place. Rounding out the top three was the BC U15 Boys’ XV who defied expectations in a division of older teams, playing with a great deal of maturity and cohesion.
Alberta Wolfpack’s White XV took fourth position over their Provincial teammates, Wolfpack Black, the only thing missing from the competition was a clash between these two fast and capable sides. Manitoba caught everyone’s eye when, on the first day of the competition, they drew with Wolfpack Black 10-10 in a truly heart-pounding spectacle. Both they and Saskatchewan gave great accounts of themselves, the score lines rarely doing justice to the passion and hard work of their performances. Indeed, one of the last games of the tournament was a head-to-head clash between Manitoba and Saskatchewan, a real roller coaster ride of a game that Manitoba clinched with the very last play of the game, securing 6th place in the process.
“I think these teams all have a lot they can be proud of after this weekend,” remarked Aaron Takel, Head of Men’s and Boys’ Growth and Development. “The whole purpose of a tournament like the WCC is development, for players and coaches alike. There is so much learning that can be taken away from this event and applied to domestic rugby in each Province. It will be exciting to watch the progress of players from all four Provinces over the next few years and see who makes the transition up to national programs.”
U16 Western Canadian Championships – Final Standings
1st BC U16
2nd BC U15
3rd Wolfpack Black
4th Wolfpack White
1st BC Blue
2nd BC Gold
3rd BC U15
4th Wolfpack Black
5th Wolfpack White