Sports

Lions, Panthers win Fraser Valley rugby titles

The Yale Lions senior girls rugby team beat Gleneagle to clinch the first Fraser Valley AAA title in program history. - submitted photo
The Yale Lions senior girls rugby team beat Gleneagle to clinch the first Fraser Valley AAA title in program history.
— image credit: submitted photo

Abbotsford teams showed exceptionally well at the Fraser Valley high school girls rugby championships, highlighted by the Abby Senior Panthers and Yale Lions claiming regional titles.

For the Panthers, this sort of thing is old hat – they’re the two-time defending B.C. AA champs, and they added another Valley title to their trophy haul by beating their local rivals, the Robert Bateman Timberwolves, 5-0 at Exhibition Park last Thursday.

For the Lions, their 15-5 triumph in the AAA final over the Gleneagle Talons was of the landmark variety – it was the first Valley championship in program history.

“The girls rugby program is stronger than ever at Yale,” enthused Lions team manager Marisa Meola.

Abby Senior vs. Bateman in senior girls rugby is one of Abbotsford’s best high school sports rivalries, and the latest chapter was played out in unusual – and dramatic – circumstances.

The game was contested during a driving rainstorm, and when the dust – make that the mud – had settled, the Panthers had a hard-fought 5-0 victory, courtesy of Gurpreet Dhaliwal’s first-half try.

“It was like a monsoon out there,” chuckled Peter Cannon, a member of the Abby Senior coaching staff.

“Aside from the fact that both defences played extremely well, the weather did have an impact on the ability of the offence to carry on any kind of sustained attack. The ball was so slippery, and if it was a skip pass, the wind would catch it.”

The Panthers avenged a 12-10 loss to Bateman during the regular season, which was their first league defeat in more than two years.

“There’s a very high probability that we’ll meet them again in the provincial tournament,” Cannon said, alluding to the B.C. AA and AAA championships which run May 22-24 in Port Alberni.

“The girls all know each other – they’re friends, and they like to compete against each other. There’s no animosity, it’s just a good, spirited rivalry.”

Yale got tries from Emily Norrie and Sarah Klok vs. Gleneagle, along with a Norrie penalty kick and a covert from Sophia Degianni, while Alex Motoc was named player of the game. The Lions will be the No. 2 seed at AAA provincials.

“We’re going there with a nice seeding,” noted Meola, who teams with head coach Larry Colby and assistant coaches Alan Borrows and Dave Carson to lead the Yale girls program. “Unfortunately we have some grads who have to come back for convocation.”

BATEMAN BOYS TO PLAY FOR VALLEY TITLE

On the AAA senior boys rugby scene, Bateman and Yale are in action on Wednesday with Fraser Valley podium spots on the line.

The T-Wolves, coming off an 18-3 win over the Lions in the regional semifinals last Thursday, face the Earl Marriott Mariners in the championship game at 7 p.m. at Rotary Stadium. The Lions, meanwhile, are on the road take on host Lord Tweedsmuir of Surrey at 3:30 p.m. in the bronze medal game.

The Rick Hansen Hurricanes play Southridge in the AA bronze medal game on the road on Tuesday.

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