Four Kootenay Jr. Rugby Zone teams participated in an end of the season tournament in Kamloops over Thanksgiving weekend. It is one of the largest tournaments in North America with teams from all over B.C. and Alberta competing.
David Dando, who coaches both junior men’s and women’s rugby in the area, says that all four teams did very well and played hard over the weekend.
“Our Under 16 Girls team remained unbeaten and won the tournament. This included an extra time 5-0 win against [the] Canuck Rugby Club in the semi-final,” Dando explained. “Lucy Leishman scored the try to put the girls in the final. A last second try by Sarah Roberston in the final against Abbottsford Rugby Club gave the team a 15-13 win. The team was a mix of older experienced players and up and coming novices.”
He adds that the girls had hard pool match against quality opposition from Alberta and B.C..
“The players showed themselves to be tenacious and committed,” said Coach Dando. “Kootenay player Haley Kruk was named tournament MVP and Sarah Robertson won coaches select for her significant contributions.”
The U19 boys team finished the tournament with a bronze medal against some tough to beat teams.
“It was a tight semi-final loss to Thompson Okanagan Rugby Association (TORA, the eventual gold medalists) to put them in the bronze medal game, beating out Calgary’s Mavericks,” Dando said. “The team was lead by standouts Relmu Wilson-Valdez and Adam Strautman. At times they looked unbeatable and this is a great start for our senior boys year.”
The U19 girls places fifth overall, out of 16 teams in their highly competitive division.
“Their only loss was an early one to Capilano [out of Vancouver],” said Dando. “The girls’ aggressiveness and commitment are a feature of their game. The core of this team won the Tier Two 15’s provincial championship title this May. Our outstanding player was Mikyla Bergman.”
The U17 boys team, says Dando, is made up of developing players from all over the region. He says despite all efforts things didn’t turn out as they’d hoped.
“They played hard, but unfortunately didn’t get results that reflected their hard work,” Coach Dando said. “We look forward to this crop of players becoming the mainstay of the Kootenay Zone teams.”
The Kootenay Zone teams are accepting new and experienced players and are encouraged to join.
“We encourage any young people who would like to explore becoming involved with rugby in the area to contact their schools for more information,” said Dando. “We have a strong core of experienced and committed youth coaches in this area with significant experience in player and youth development.”