The team was comprised of players from Invermere, Kimberley, Cranbrook, Nelson, Castlegar, Trail and Grand Forks. Photo by Tamara Morgan

Kootenay rugby team wins gold at provincial championships

DTSS student Gabrielle Croteau joins Kootenay team to win BC Rugby championship

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 Coach 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.”

Many girls on the team 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 Coach 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.”

The coaches 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.

The Kootenay team was comprised of one student from Invermere – DTSS student Gabrielle Croteau – as well as students from Kimberley, Cranbrook, Nelson, Castlegar, Trail and Grand Forks.

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.

Starting off the tournament the team won 43-17 against Alberni District Secondary and then continued their dominance 34-7 against Hugh McRoberts Secondary to head to the championship game.

Player of the tournament was 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 Coach 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 Summer.

“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.

Summer 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.

Coach 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, Coach 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.

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