Abbotsford rugby stars lead the charge as Fraser Valley U18s win gold

Abbotsford athletes were front and centre as the Fraser Valley under-18 girls squad won gold at the provincial regional championships.

Abbotsford athletes were front and centre as the Fraser Valley under-18 girls squad won gold at the provincial regional championships in dominating fashion on the weekend.

The squad included nine local athletes, led by Lauren Arthur, Tiffany Picketts, Shelby Pihl, Kayla Van Veld, Gurpreet Dhaliwal and Veronica Flores of the B.C. AA high school champion Abbotsford Collegiate Panthers. Yale Secondary’s Sophia DeGianni and Zandri Botha were also featured on the Valley rep team, along with Madison Borrows of Robert Bateman Secondary.

The team rolled over the competition at regionals, going 4-0 in pool play before blanking the Vancouver Island Tsunami 20-0 in the final. Picketts scored a try in the gold medal game.

“It was such a great bunch of girls,” Fraser Valley coach Jen Ross said. “They lived up to our expectations of them. It didn’t come down to the coaching – they probably could have coached themselves. They were so talented, and had so much maturity.

“It was a seamless transition from their school year to the rep season.”

Arthur, Picketts, Pihl, Van Veld and Borrows have been selected to the B.C. U18 team that will participate in the National Rugby Festival in Quebec next month.

• Five Abby athletes have been named to the B.C. U19 men’s side which is pursuing a gold medal at nationals this week in Edmonton.

Connor Hunter, Ryan March, Deon Smit, Christian Styles all play their club rugby with the Abbotsford Rugby Football Club, and they’ll be joined on the provincial squad by Paul Ahn, a local product who plays for UBC.

• Abbotsford’s Lucas De Beer and Aaron Flagg represented B.C. last Friday. They were members of a provincial U23 squad which was beaten 24-13 by Durham University, an English touring side, in exhibition action at Vancouver’s Klahanie Park.

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