Maxine O’Leary gains ground for the Cowichan Thunderbirds despite the efforts of multiple Mount Boucherie defenders. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Cow High girls rugby season ends in nail-biter

T-Birds finish seventh at provincials with lots of promise for next year

The Cowichan Secondary Thunderbirds wrapped up the girls rugby season with a nail-biter against W.J. Mouat at the AAA provincial championships hosted by Shawnigan Lake School last Saturday.

After losses to Yale last Thursday and Mount Boucherie on Friday, Cowichan faced Mouat for seventh place. The game came down the wire, and even then, the result wasn’t completely clear.

“It had to be one of the funniest endings of a game,” Cowichan coach Sherry Spence said. “When the final whistle blew, neither team’s players knew who had won the game. That’s how tight it was, which is just awesome. Like I told the girls, that’s why you play rugby, for these competitive games.”

Most of the game was played in the middle of the pitch between the 22-metre marks. Cowichan trailed 7-5 at halftime and went down 14-5 soon after the break. A smart play by captain Melanie Robertson helped Cowichan narrow the gap as she chipped the ball ahead, then dove on the ball alongside teammate Jaxon Baker for another try.

Cowichan held up another would-be try by Mouat, then got one more of their own by Tamara Knight-Robinson, who was driven over the line by her teammates from a penalty in front of the posts. A successful conversion put the T-Birds ahead 17-14 with three minutes to go.

As time ticked down, Hannah Wilson won a scrum and the T-Birds were driven out of bounds. Mouat took their time with the ensuing lineout, then were called for not throwing the ball straight, and when the players lined up for another scrum, the final whistle sounded.

Most of the squad will be back next year, as the team included only three Grade 12s: captain Robertson, Jenna Batty, and Brianne Margerison, who missed provincials with an injury.

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Paige Clarke surges forward for the Cowichan Thunderbirds against Mount Boucherie. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

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