Heat player evades a tackle. Photo: Dan Kinvig

UBC Okanagan unable to snag a win in Abbotsford rugby tournament

The Heat look to build off games against tough competition.

In their first rugby 7’s tournament as a member of the Canada West, the Heat women’s squad were unable to capture a victory during the weekend in the lower mainland against some top-notch competition.

The Heat would play six games during the two day tournament, including battles with powerhouses UBC, Calgary and Alberta. Head coach Christian Hill noted that while his team didn’t capture any victories, they showed plenty of growth and toughness.

“It was a bit rough in terms of results, but pretty great in terms of development and growth. Having just come off the bus for the early game on Saturday, the girls looked a bit sluggish versus UFV but keeping them to a low scoring game was pretty good considering they thumped us earlier in the year.”

“Other than that, the girls put up a very close game against Calgary, and UVIC who are two perennial contenders in Canada West,” said Hill.

UBCO opened up their tournament against the host UFV Cascades and did a good job keeping the home team off the scoreboard for the majority of the match but they fell by a 17-0 scoreline.

Later in the day they would fall 57-7 to the UBC Thunderbirds before a 29-7 loss to the Calgary Dinos.

The final three matches came against Lethbridge, Alberta and Victoria but the team from Kelowna was unable to capture their first victory of the tournament. They gave the Alberta Pandas a run for their money however, as they scored two tries from Emma Johnson and Maria Ritchie.

“Emma Johnson was named tournament MVP for us, and rookies Maria Ritchie and Stephanie Pauls stepped up when they were needed,” said Hill. “Strong performances from our veteran group of Shaira Venegas, Jordanne Sulz and Abbey Nyberg consistently throughout the weekend.”

The Heat will compete in the final Canada West Women’s Rugby Sevens Series event in Vancouver from March 2-3 hosted by UBC.

“As a team it gives us a pathway forward. We saw how the top teams train and perform, and hopefully it motivates us in the next month to get to that next level as well,” said Hill.

RELATED: The Rockets cruised by the competition at the Wickfest tournament in Surrey

The Victoria Vikes went a perfect 6-0 during the tournament, wrapping up their victorious run with wins over Lethbridge (22-10), Calgary (28-0) and the Heat (24-7) on Sunday at Exhibition Park.

The performance marked a return to form for the defending CW Sevens Series champs, who had finished third at the 2019 curtain-raising tourney in Edmonton two weeks ago.

Along with Victoria’s dominance, the weather was a significant story line on Sunday. After relatively mild temperatures and periodic sun on Saturday, Day two featured a rare snowfall in Abbotsford with gusting wind. Temperatures were in the neighbourhood of -5 C, with wind chill to -15 C.

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