Abbotsford rugby stars shine at national championships

Abbotsford athletes played key roles for the B.C. U16 boys and girls rugby teams, which both won gold at the National Championship Festival

Abbotsford athletes played key roles for the provincial U16 boys and girls rugby teams, which both won gold at the Rugby Canada National Championship Festival in Vancouver last week.

B.C. entered two teams in the U16 girls tournament. The B.C. Gold squad lived up to its name, wrapping up the title by blanking Ontario 19-0 in the Cup final. The team featured nine local players from five Abbotsford high schools: Sophia Belsher, Autumn Garrett and Morgan Walker of Robert Bateman Secondary, Mackenzie Carson and Sydney Stoltz of Yale, Abby Senior’s Nakisa Levale and Vienna Schroeder, Keera Grabbe of W.J. Mouat, and Rachelle Wenting of Rick Hansen.

The U16 Blue squad, featuring Abbotsford’s Emily Pollastretti and Katrina Moorthy, finished fourth, falling 20-0 to Alberta in the Plate final.

The U16 Yellow boys squad won their division’s championship in dominant fashion, crushing Ontario 50-0 in the final. The team included a trio of locals: Josh and Jake Thiel of Bateman, and Yale’s Noah Bain.

Additionally, B.C.’s boys and girls teams in the U18 age class both brought home silver medals.

Yale Lions teammates Spencer Miller, Jason Hignell, Judah Ratzlaff and Nathan Sawchuk joined forces with Louis Retief, a fellow Abbotsford Rugby Club member who attends Sardis Secondary, to help the U18 boys team to a hard-fought runner-up result. They dropped a 29-21 decision to Ontario in the Cup final.

The B.C. U17 boys squad, featuring Bateman’s Noah Jensen and Yale’s Ayden Kirkpatrick, also participated in the U18 tourney, and they made it to the Plate final, where they fell 26-7 to Ontario 3.

The provincial U18 girls team, starring Tiffany Picketts and Shelby Pihl of Abby Senior, Yale’s Sophia DeGianni and Chrissa Perez, and Bateman’s Lauren Kerr and Kay Olsen, took second place. They lost 25-5 to Ontario in the Cup final.