Seven cities from the Kootenays were represented by 36 girls who competed as a team at the BC Rugby High School Girls’ Provincial XV championships on Vancouver Island.
Not only did they show the skill that comes from the area, but they took home first place in Tier 2 after defeating D.W. Poppy Secondary School 30-0. The team was coached by Scott Cormie and Sean Sinclair.
“The girls responded really well,” said Sinclair. “We knew we had a really big strong runner in their forwards and a really strong backline. We just said ‘you have to defend,’ and they did that. We got really lucky with a couple of bounces and scored every five-10 minutes.”
For many of the girls on the team, they had not played together before.
“For such a big group, they came together relatively quickly, but I think we built it throughout the tournament. By the time we got to that gold medal game, that was our best game because we were gelling as we went along,” explained Cormie. “Every kid individually, I’m so proud of. It’s humbling for me that we can take these kids from other schools that have different coaches … and they really buy in.”
Cormie and Sinclair stressed to the team throughout the tournament to have the girls get together and know each other.
“It was a really strong performance, and I’m super pleased with how the girls came together because it was a mix and you are trying to get people to just play a simple system … by Saturday they were all doing it and they were all bought in. To see it, it was great,” said Sinclair.
In the championship game, nine of the starting 15 players came from Nelson.
“That just made me so proud of them, that they worked really hard to be in that frontline group, and played big minutes,” said Cormie.
The Kootenay team was comprised of girls from Invermere, Kimberley, Cranbrook, Nelson, Castlegar, Trail and Grand Forks, which Emma Damm, Grade 12, Mount Baker Secondary School, says helped them be successful.
“It was seven cities strong, and we all got to know each other. I still don’t know half the girls’ names, but we played like we were family,” she explained.
The teams played the final game on a wet field, while it was actively raining, but that didn’t stop the Kootenay team from bringing all they had.
“It was so cold,” said Skylar Bell, Grade 12, Mount Baker Secondary School. Even though the weather made it tough, Bell said she was excited for what the team accomplished.
“Kootenays has never really placed in any kind of tournament like that,” she said. “It was the last tournament I would be playing with that group, and I was honoured to be there.”
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Starting off the tournament the team won 43-17 against Alberni District Secondary School and then continued their dominance 34-7 against Hugh McRoberts Secondary School to head to the championship game.
Player of the tournament, was none other than Mount Baker’s Summer Blackmore.
“It went really well,” she said about the tournament. “It was a little rocky, but then we really started to gel a little bit more and got along really well. Everybody had so much fun together.”
Seeing the team come together and be able to win big, was nothing short of spectacular for Sinclair.
“For me, it was emotional because you guys are playing above where you started. So many of those girls stepped up in a way that you didn’t expect,” he said.
Winning gold at the provincial championships was an amazing feeling for Blackmore.
“Especially because we didn’t really expect too much going into it We were going to do our best and try, then we just really gelled and it turned out really well,” she said.
Blackmore described the team as being close, even having only been together for a couple of days.
“Even though we were thrown together it was close-knit and it was just for that one moment, it was quite special,” she said.
Cormie described the team as young, noting a majority of the players were in Grade 10.
“That bodes well for their future because they have already had a win and a big success,” he said.
With the team’s success, Sinclair says he hopes within the next year or two every school in the Kootenay zone will have their own 20-player roster and can go as individuals schools.