The Belmont Bulldogs are at the very start of their senior girls rugby sevens city league schedule, but the squad is already headed to provincial championships, happening tomorrow and Saturday (April 21-22) at the University of British Columbia.
It’s not as if the Bulldogs have been idle, they’ve already played in two tournaments. They finished second at the West Shore tournament and third at the recent Islands, where a narrow 12-10 loss to eventual champion Shawnigan was followed by a 39-5 drubbing of Cowichan in the third/fourth place match.
Belmont head coach Charlotte Haley likes how her team is shaping up ahead of provincials.
“The girls have been training for awhile so we’re well prepared training wise,” she said Thursday before departing with the team for the mainland. “We’re very excited about this tournament. Last year we came ninth, but this year we should be well into the top eight. We’re a dark horse, but I think we might surprise some people.”
As girls rugby has grown on the West Shore, so has the Bulldogs program. Belmont’s sevens roster is anchored by standouts Denise Roy (fullback/wing), who is with Rugby Canada’s under-18 national program, and B.C. team players Maggie MacKinnon (fly half) and Zoe Williams (prop).
Not only is there a solid contingent from last year’s team playing again. And most of the players signed up for the rugby phys-ed class for this term and have been practising regularly with the boys.
“We’re bringing 16 players this time,” Haley said of the provincial roster. “Last year our bench was very short, but this time we have a number of players who can come in and bring an impact to the game in the second half.”
The Bulldogs play Abbotsford, Houston and Chatelech secondary on Friday, the results of which will determine their placing in the playoff round Saturday.
The sevens provincials are held early due to the scheduling of the 15s B.C. championships in June.