Peninsula rugby squads score silver

Plenty of local representation at regional championships.

Vancouver South U16’s Tommy Blackburn dodges a tackle at provincial regional championships in Burnaby last weekend.

Dozens of young rugby players from the Semiahmoo Peninsula stormed the B.C. provincial regional championships last weekend, taking many of their competitors by surprise according to one coach.

The two-weekend tournament – which wraps up this coming weekend with U18 boys and U18 girls action – set the stage for the unveiling of a brand new region, Vancouver South, formerly Fraser Valley West.

Players from Earl Marriott, Semiahmoo, Southridge and Elgin Park made up the Vancouver South U14, U15 and U16 boys squad and the U16 girls team.

Both U16 squads took home silver medals – as well as numerous invites for players to attend provincial camp later this month – results that coach Andy Blackburn described as “outstanding.”

The new Vancouver South region is smaller than its Fraser Valley West predecessor, Blackburn said, noting that, as a result, representation from local high schools is now greater.

“What it means for us, because we created a smaller region, we are able to get more of our local athletes on those teams,” Blackburn said. “We were able to engage probably 125 local players.”

Blackburn described the U16 boys second-place finish as a surprise, given the squad was ranked 10th out of 10 teams heading into the tournament.

The squad just narrowly missed out on the gold, losing to Vancouver North in the “dying minutes” of the finals.

The U16 girls squad were also within reach of first place, losing by two points to Fraser Valley East, a team that Blackburn said is a “well-known powerhouse.”

The U15 boys came third in the weekend tournament – which was played at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex – defeating Fraser Valley East in the bronze medal match; the U14 boys finished in fourth place.

Vancouver South’s U18 boys and girls teams will head to Burnaby for the second half of the regional championships this weekend, and coaches have high hopes that the teams are up for the task.

“Going into this weekend, the U18 boys especially stand a very good chance of doing very well,” Blackburn said.

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