Cowichan forward Sherry Spence crashes into the Castaways defence during the Island women’s rugby final at Piggie Park last Saturday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Cowichan forward Sherry Spence crashes into the Castaways defence during the Island women’s rugby final at Piggie Park last Saturday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Cowichan edged in Island women’s rugby final

Castaways take Xi’Sul Stomish Cup by two-point margin

A two-point margin was all that separated the Cowichan Piggies from the Xi’Sul Stomish Cup in a narrow loss to Castaway Wanderers in the battle for the Vancouver Island First Division women’s rugby championship last Saturday.

Both teams had dominated the Island competition this fall, but Castaways had a slight edge on the day, winning 26-24 in a game that was moved to Cowichan because CW’s regular home field in Oak Bay was closed.

Cowichan and Castaways had been the only teams to regularly field full squads this fall, often loaning players to their opponents in order to play 10-a-side matches. This time, injuries had Cowichan down to 14 players available on the day, so the teams ended up playing a game of XIIs.

“CW showed up with a roster of 20 players,” Cowichan captain Sherry Spence pointed out. “So for them to beat us by only two points with the substitution they had on the sidelines — not only the number of players but the quality of players — was a massive positive for the Cowichan Piggies. Obviously we would have loved to hoist the cup over our heads, but it wasn’t our day.”

The Piggies got two tries from Carolyn Gudmundseth and one each from Nicole Wood and Tyson Beukeboom. Lauryn Bons kicked two converts on her way to being named Player of the Match in the backs, and Deanna Cvitanovich was named Player of the Match in the forwards.

It hasn’t been an reboot for women’s rugby after a season lost to COVID-19, but Saturday’s final was a bright spot.

“The return to women’s rugby on Vancouver Island has been a slow grind for all, with most women’s teams struggling to field a roster of 15 players,” Cowichan coach Marlene Donaldson observed. “So, our team is proud of the amazing group of women who consistently came out each week to practice and play for us. We recognize how far we have come in the past few rebuilding years.

“Having beaten every team on the Island this season, including the Island champions, Castaway Wanderers, we proved that the core of players who have committed this season executed exciting phases of play, dominant defence and relentless support all over the field. As hard as it was to lose such a close final, we also know we made some costly mistakes. We left the game with our heads held high, looking forward to the spring season where we will continue to progress towards reaching our full potential. I feel confident you will see us back in another final this season.”

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