Cowichan Secondary’s Erica Kissinger receives the President’s Choice Award at the provincial rugby sevens championships. (Submitted by Sherry Spence)

Cowichan Secondary’s Erica Kissinger receives the President’s Choice Award at the provincial rugby sevens championships. (Submitted by Sherry Spence)

Cowichan Thunderbirds finish 6th at provincial girls sevens

Down to seven players on final day, T-Birds battle to the end

New rules governing high school girls rugby made this season a challenge for Cowichan Secondary School, but the Thunderbirds capped it off in style with a sixth-place finish at the provincial sevens tournament last week.

According to coach Sherry Spence, the new rules sidelined any athlete who moved to Cowichan Secondary School this year, including several who are attending the new MacDowell Rugby Academy. So the T-Birds opted to play an exhibition XV season and enter the eligible players into the sevens championship.

The T-Birds took fifth place on the Island, beating Carihi to secure the last berth in provincials. With only nine players available thanks to a handful of injuries, the team travelled to Abbotsford for the provincial tournament last Thursday and Friday.

Cowichan opened pool play on Thursday with a 26-10 loss to top-seeded Claremont, but bounced back to beat Houston 26-5 and Langley Secondary 31-5 to finish second in their pool and advance to the championship bracket.

Even more injuries limited the T-Birds to just seven players on the second day, but they battled on. Cowichan lost their quarter-final 22-0 to the eventual champions from Oak Bay, but bounced back to beat Peter Skene Ogden 35-5 in the second round before falling to St. Michaels University School 29-7 in the fifth-place match.

“Sevens rugby is short games but long days with warm up, play and wait,” Spence noted. “These girls continued to impress. We came up against some very talented teams, but they also had multiple subs they were filtering in and out of the games.”

Erica Kissinger received the President’s Choice Award. Playing every second of the tournament, Kissinger scored multiple tries, kicked conversions and started games with strategic drop kicks. Spence called her “a true leader on and off the field.”

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