Jay Richards

Jay Richards

Rugby players medal at nationals

Five lakecity athletes made their presences felt last week during the Rugby Canada National Festival Championships.

Five lakecity athletes made their presences felt last week during the Rugby Canada National Festival Championships.

All five came home with medals with their respective B.C. teams.

Sheridan Davis, Jaye Richards, Carleigh Walters, Emma Pfleiderer and Laura Pfleiderer — all Lake City Secondary School athletes — cracked roster spots on Team BC and suited up at the championships, which took place from Aug. 4-10 at the Calgary Rugby Park.

Davis joined the under-18 women’s team, Walters, Emma and sister Laura played for the under-16 women’s team and Richards captained B.C.’s under-16 men’s team.

Both Davis and Richards marched away from the festival with gold medals, while Emma, Laura and Walters scooped up a silver medal.

Davis and the under-18 squad defeated Ontario in a championship thriller, 10-7, on Sunday afternoon. Down 7-0 at the half, a try and a successive conversion proved to be the difference maker in what B.C. coaches said was a tight contest.

Ontario had previously blanked B.C. 17-0 in the pool rounds on Saturday in Calgary.

“We played them on Saturday and we knew we could exploit them if we kept the ball in tight and banged them up a little bit,” said under-18 girls coach Brad Baker. “We withstood their pressure for the first 10 to 15 minutes of the game and were able to hold them off.

“We’d really like to thank the clubs and high schools back home. I think this gold medal is a tribute to what’s being done in the province but we need to continue the momentum for the rugby being provided for women and girls in B.C.”

The under-18 women finished the tournament with wins over Alberta, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Ontario.

Richards and B.C.’s under-16 men’s side were equally as successful.

B.C. shutout Alberta 26-0 following a dominant performance in preliminary matches.

“The boys definitely had their best game [in the final],” under-16 head coach Mike Stiles said. “Their games got better and better and we got more consistent throughout the tournament. Alberta definitely played a hard style in the forwards and I think our forwards matches them and wore them down today. It was a grind out game.”

Richards said having the opportunity to captain Team B.C. was a phenomenal experience, and added he hopes to one day play for Canada’s national team.

“I had the privilege of captaining the team to a gold-winning game against Alberta,” Richards said.

“I learned a lot more for skills and I can’t wait to take it back into Williams Lake rugby.”

Emma, Laura, Walters and their under-16 teammates, meanwhile, smashed the competition until running into a brick wall in Ontario’s provincial squad.

B.C. opened its tournament with a 37-10 victory over Alberta on Wednesday, before losing its second match the next day, 19-7, to Ontario.

B.C. then pummelled Alberta on Saturday, before Ontario, again, proved it had B.C.’s number in a 31-7 championship win.

“Coming into the tournament we had three training camps — none with our full squad,” women’s under-16 coach Buffy Cornell said. “But the growth of these girls from day one on Monday to the final game today is remarkable.

“They played as a team. When they were on point, they were destroying the other teams. We lost a little bit of the aggression towards the end of the game but we finished on a high and we are very proud of the players.”

Williams Lake’s Tasha Johnson was also selected for the second straight year to B.C.’s under-18 women’s team, however, a stress fracture in her foot forced her from competing at the festival.