Inspired by words of wisdom from provincial coach Rick Pimlott, Williams Lake rugby players Jaime Carrier and Jasmyn Niquidet helped lead Team B.C. to a bronze medal at the U18 National Rugby Championships last week.
The tournament, held in Sherbrooke, Que. from Aug. 8-12, saw Team BC shutout the hometown favourite Quebec 13-0 in the bronze-medal match following a heartbreaking loss to eventual gold-medal winner Alberta, 13-8, in the semifinal.
“After the Alberta game everyone was super disappointed, which is understandable,” Niquidet said. “But Rick said … the true athletes are the ones who can take a loss and then the next day forget about it and keep moving forward.
“I think that’s exactly what we did. After the Alberta game we were upset, there were a few tears, but as soon as we got back to the dorms we got focused and were pretty serious after that. We didn’t let the loss get us down.”
For the most part, B.C. dominated their respective matches in the tournament, losing just twice to Alberta — both times by a mere try.
B.C. opened with a 13-0 shutout of Saskatchewan, before falling 15-10 to Alberta in round robin play of day one. Day two saw B.C. bounce back with a 68-0 drubbing over Manitoba and a 92-0 shellacking of New Brunswick, prior to its two playoff games.
Both said the bronze-medal match was hard-fought, and agreed they just as easily could have been playing in the gold-medal game had a couple of bad bounces gone in their favour.
“I don’t think they were that much better than us,” Niquidet said. “We were just one try behind them in both games but in rugby the ball, it bounces weird sometimes, and we just didn’t get very lucky bounces.”
Alberta went on to beat Ontario, who normally claims the gold medal, 15-10 in the final.
Carrier, who graduated from Columneetza Secondary School this past June, said Quebec’s team did everything in its power to stop them from scoring.
“It was just like our coach told us before the game,” Carrier said. “They were tenacious, they weren’t going to give up. They didn’t want us getting through [their defence] and they didn’t want us to score.”
Niquidet, who is headed into her Grade 12 year at CSS, said the key to the tournament was Team B.C.’s strong defence.
“Our defence was just amazing,” she said. “Except for Alberta we didn’t have a try scored on us, and that was just kind of unlucky.”
The duo, who were both playing in their second stint with B.C.’s U18 national team, said they were looked up to as leaders by the first-year players. Team BC was chosen following a week-long identification camp in Vancouver last month. Prior to the tournament the girls spent a week in Vancouver preparing with the team.
“There were a lot of new girls and I think there were a lot of nerves to start out,” Niquidet said. “But every game we got better and better.”
“I loved it,” Carrier added. “All the players were so willing to learn and they were always asking questions and ready to learn. I thought that was awesome.”