Cascades finish sixth at inaugural Canada West women’s rugby sevens tournament

Chelsea Fowler (left) accounted for both of the Cascades’ tries at the opening tourney of the Canada West Women’s Rugby Sevens Series in Edmonton. (Don Voaklander photos)

Wins eluded the fledgling University of the Fraser Valley women’s rugby sevens club in its Canada West debut in Edmonton this weekend, but simply taking the field to represent UFV was a victory in itself.

The Cascades were unique in the six-team field, in that UFV doesn’t have an existing varsity 15s rugby program from which to comprise its sevens roster. Head coach Jen Ross is overseeing a true start-up, and while her squad didn’t come away with any wins at the University of Alberta’s Foote Field, Ross was pleased with what she saw in terms of potential.

“Overall, it was a hugely positive experience, and it really got the girls to believe in the future of the program,” Ross enthused.

“We just don’t have the depth or experience that the other teams have at this point, so maintaining that consistency for the duration of games was a challenge. But we certainly didn’t feel like we can’t compete at this level. We just need to keep growing the program and getting more athletes out to play. All of the other teams were excited to have us there and were very encouraging, and were impressed with the calibre of athletes we had.”

Meghan Wellis of the Cascades tries to shake loose of the grasp of a Calgary Dinos opponent.

In Saturday’s round-robin action, the Cascades fell to Calgary (40-0), Victoria (31-5) and Alberta (38-5), and Sunday’s results included losses to UBC (40-0) and Lethbridge (43-0). UFV faced UBC in the fifth-sixth placing game to conclude the tournament, and dropped a 40-0 decision. Chelsea Fowler accounted for both of the Cascades’ tries during the tourney.

UVic defeated Calgary 12-5 in the final, and Alberta beat Lethbridge 24-17 in the third-fourth placing game.

Ross noted that the Cascades’ games were closer throughout than the final scores indicated – for instance, they were tied 5-5 at halftime of their round-robin clash with eventual champ Victoria.

“All of the games where it seems the score got out of hand were games where we unloaded the newer players when it became clear we weren’t going to catch up,” Ross explained. “I don’t think the scores are indicative of how competitive we were in each and every one of the games. We took each game to set out a new goal – we’d look at putting out our best performance over the first seven minutes and see where we were at halftime.”

The Canada West Women’s Rugby Sevens Series features two more events, hosted by UBC (Feb. 4-5) and Victoria (Feb. 18-19), and a champion will be crowned on Feb. 19 as determined by cumulative series points.

The series has been made possible thanks to the conference’s partnership with B2ten and Rugby Canada. Through their joint support, which will include scholarship opportunities for players at all six competing institutions, B2ten and Rugby Canada are committed to helping Canadian female athletes pursue their athletic careers, including an opportunity to progress to the national team.

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