Cow High’s Melanie Robertson outruns a couple of Ballenas defenders during a match at the Island girls sevens at Shawnigan Lake School on Tuesday. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Cow High’s Melanie Robertson outruns a couple of Ballenas defenders during a match at the Island girls sevens at Shawnigan Lake School on Tuesday. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Shawnigan, Cow High get B.C. sevens berths

Island high school girls sevens a fantastic opportunity at all levels

Vancouver Island’s best high school girls rugby sevens teams gathered at Shawnigan Lake School on Tuesday to battle for berths in the provincial championships, with 23 teams, playing in three divisions on four fields.

Host Shawnigan took first in the senior (Grade 11-12) division, with Belmont and Cowichan Secondary claiming the other two provincial berths. Esquimalt topped the junior (Grade 9-10) division, followed by Mark R. Isfeld and Georges P. Vanier. The development division was won by St. Michaels University School.

“The development division was exciting because it provided a platform for girls to have more experience in a less-competitive environment,” Shawnigan coach Shannon Atkins commented. “The junior division was very strong showcasing the talent that will be coming up through the ranks in the next couple of years. And, as always, the senior girls performed at a high level, proving that skill level is ever increasing in girls high school rugby.”

The Cow High seniors opened the day with a loss to Belmont, coming on strong in the second half, then carrying that momentum over to a dominant win over newcomer Ballenas. That set up a semifinal showdown against Shawnigan. Cowichan lost that match, but bounced back to beat Brentwood for third and a ticket to provincials.

The Cow High juniors split their first two games, beating Brentwood and losing to Isfeld, then winning a rematch against Brentwood to set up a semifinal showdown against Vanier, which Vanier won after Cowichan lost a couple of players to injury.

“This was the first sevens tournament for a few of the juniors,” Cowichan coach Sherry Spence noted. “It was such a great experience. Such a learning curve compared to XV rugby. [We are] super excited for the future.”