The North Island U16 girls rugby team, made up largely of Cowichan players, hoists the provincial championship trophy at UBC on Sunday. (Submitted)

North Island claims provincial championship

Cowichan players lead the way in U16 girls rugby final

Cowichan rugby players powered the North Island U16 girls rugby team to the provincial championship with a convincing victory over Abbotsford on Sunday.

The North Island side, made up largely of Cowichan players and wearing CRFC colours, beat the defending provincial champions 25-15 at UBC to claim the title.

The 16 Cowichan players included Mia Eagar, who co-captained the team along with Comox’s Akira Le.

“It was a very well matched game,” said Cowichan’s own Sherry Spence, one of the North Island coaches.

North Island got off to a strong start, with two tries in the first 10 minutes before the teams started battling back and forth. A few penalties got North Island into trouble, and Abbotsford was able to capitalize. The halftime score was 15-5 in North Island’s favour.

The forward pack was one of the strengths of the North Island team, with No. 8 Deanna Cvitanovich crashing over the line for a couple of tries.

“The North’s forward pack was very powerful,” Spence said. “They stole multiple scrums from Abbotsford.”

Abbotsford made it interesting in the last 15 minutes, scoring to cut North Island’s league to 20-15. Fullback Eagar and inside centre Mikayla Brennan-McCann, another Cowichan player who had scored a try earlier in the match, were able to kick the ball down the field in a chase, relieving the pressure as time ticked down, and another Cowichan player, halftime sub Skye Koyote, powered over the line to put North Island up by 10 once again.

“The final whistle blew moments after the restart [after Koyote’s try], which caused celebration by all, as we knocked off the B.C. champs from last year,” Spence said.

According to Spence, this could be just the start for the group of Cowichan players.

“The most exciting part is when you think about the future of girls rugby in Cowichan,” she said. “Ten of the 16 players will be able to play u16 for one more year. And the fact that the Cowichan rugby team has girls from seven different schools in the Valley.”

The North Island U18 side, which also includes a handful of Cowichan players, also played at UBC on Sunday, falling 34-19 to Richilano in their bronze-medal match.

Kevin