South Surrey’s Shoshanah Seumanutafa had quite a day on the rugby pitch Sunday, helping her UBC Thunderbirds women’s team to its first-ever Canada West title, while also being named the conference’s player of the year.
With Seumanutafa – a Semiahmoo Secondary grad – leading the charge, the T-Birds captured the title with a 26-12 victory over the defending champion Calgary Dinos, who have Berlyn Seselja, another Semiahmoo grad, on its roster.
UBC’s win halted Calgary’s quest for a fourth consecutive Canada West crown.
“The first half we were making lots and lots of errors and couldn’t get our game going,” said UBC head coach Dean Murten. “Second half we just needed to calm down a bit and relax, it is the first time this group has played in the Canada West finals.
“Once we got over the nerves, we relaxed and started moving the ball and played some outstanding rugby.”
In addition to Seumanutafa, UBC’s roster also includes Earl Marriott Secondary grad Rachel Smith and Clayton Heights Secondary scrum half Mackenzie Adam.
Both the Thunderbirds and Dinos had already qualified for the U Sports Women’s Rugby Championship, which is set for Ottawa in two weeks.
Calgary staked itself to an early 7-0 lead in the title tilt, until UBC bridged the gap to 7-5 after Seumanutafa kicked the ball forward into space and teammate Emma Feldinger dove on it for the try in the 24th minute.
The game went back and forth, with Seumanutafa added two second-half converts to her totals, with the final convert – from a bad angle on the far-left side of the pitch – coming after a try from Smith.
After the game, Seumanutafa, a third-year centre, was named the player of the year.
She led Canada West in tries, with seven; converts, with 11 and points, with 57, during the regular season. Her 57 points were 18 better than the next closest player in the scoring-leader list.
Seumanutafa is the first UBC player to win the Canada West player-of-the-year award. T-Bird legend Cherlyn McKay did win the U Sports player-of-the=year honour in 1998 – which was the first year of women’s rugby at the national level – but no such award for the Canada West existed that season.