Last season

South Surrey girls rugby teams ‘could really be a force’

Earl Marriott, Elgin Park and Semiahmoo senior teams all ranked in top eight as provincials await.

It’s shaping up to be a banner year for senior girls rugby on the Semiahmoo Peninsula.

All three senior AAA teams – the Semiahmoo Totems, Earl Marriott Mariners and Elgin Park Orcas – have qualified for provincials, which are set for later this month. And while having a strong local presence in the B.C. championships isn’t rare – Elgin and Semi were there last year, and in the past, all three have qualified – what is rather noteworthy this time around is that all three sides are ranked inside the provincial top eight.

Four teams from the Fraser Valley earn berths to provincials, and on Thursday afternoon – after Peace Arch News’ press deadline – the Totems squared off against Abbotsford’s Yale Lions for the Valley title, while Earl Marriott and Elgin Park played each other in a third/fourth-place game.

“No matter what happens, we’re all in,” said Semiahmoo coach Frank Ellestad. “It’s pretty awesome.”

While Ellestad chalked up teams’ successes this year to something of a coincidence – with all three schools peaking at the same time – longtime Elgin Park coach Johan Mynhardt also suggested South Surrey’s strong rugby culture played a role.

“To be a good rugby player, you need four or five years experience – stars are not always born, they’re trained,” said Mynhardt, who has coached at Elgin Park since 1997.

“And for all (three) schools, it starts at Grade 8, and we train them and nurture them along. And with the Bayside (club) rugby program, too, by the time they get to the senior level, they’re all very good.”

Elgin Park finished second at provincials last season – losing in the finals to G.P. Vanier after a storybook run that saw the Orcas knock off the tournament’s two top seeds – and though they’ve lost six players off last year’s team, the younger players have stepped up to fill the void, Mynhardt said.

“It’s worked out well so far,” he said.

When it comes to the Totems’ success this season, Ellestad admits his squad is ahead of where he thought they’d be. The team has just one Grade 12 starter, and like Elgin Park, has relied on a talented group of younger players.

“In all honesty, we’re about nine months ahead of where I expected us to be,” he said.

Earl Marriott’s team, meanwhile, is enjoying a resurgence under the coaching of Melissa Seselja, a Semiahmoo alum who lists Ellestad as a key influence.

“It’s really exciting to seee all three schools in the top eight,” she said. “It means that rugby is growing.”

All three teams have helped sharpen each other’s skills, the coaches agreed.

“We have all had some great games against each other this year, and I think it’s making us all better as a result,” Ellestad said.

Mynhardt agreed, and predicted this run of success would be more than a one-year phenomenon – and would help women’s teams beyond the high-school level, too.

“The quality of rugby here has really improved – especially in the last four years. I think in our area here, we could really be a force.”

The senior girls’ AAA provincials are planned for Capilano University from May 21-23.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hundreds of people gathered in White Rock last year to participate in the annual Remembrance Day ceremony – but due to COVID-19, the city’s ceremony this year will be online only. (File photo)
White Rock chooses ‘virtual’ Remembrance Day

Due to COVID-19 the Nov. 11 ceremony will be online only

Peace Portal Alliance Church, at the corner of King George Boulevard and 152 Street, is the extreme-weather shelter for South Surrey for the upcoming season. It is to have 14 mats available nightly for those experiencing homelessness, regardless of weather conditions. (Tracy Holmes photo)
14 beds planned for South Surrey extreme-weather shelter

Webinar tonight to field questions, share info on Peace Portal Alliance Church refuge

White Rock Whalers president Ronnie Paterson (inset photo) is hopeful the team and City of White Rock will be able to find a solution that will allow the Whalers and their PJHL opponents to use the dressing rooms at Centennial Arena. (Jody Harris photo)
Whalers waiting to hear on dressing-room availability as PJHL home-opener looms

White Rock team owner ‘confident’ hurdles can be overcome in talks with city

Fraser Health declared an outbreak of COVID-19 at Delta Hospital on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. (Grace Kennedy photo)
Outbreak over at Delta Hospital

In all, 45 cases of COVID-19 were identified and seven patients died during the outbreak

The Sunshine Band Club video posted to Youtube.
VIDEO: Surrey youth band shines light on ‘COVID blues,’ raises money for hospital

Virtual concert from Sunshine Band Club, established last March

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

Commissioner Austin Cullen listens to introductions before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver, on February 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. money laundering inquiry hears of $800,000 and more in bags, luggage, backpacks

The lottery corporation has said it consistently reported suspicious transactions to Fintrac

Some of the characters in the League of Legends video game. (Photo: na.leagueoflegends.com)
E-sports trial at B.C. high schools to start with ‘League of Legends’ team game

For fall launch, Vancouver’s GameSeta company partners with BC School Sports

Graphic on promo material for Best Buy Canada’s Tech Wonderland event.
Drive-through ‘Tech Wonderland’ coming to PNE site a few weeks before Christmas

Best Buy Canada-backed ‘holiday’ event to raise money for charity

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Aaliyah Rosa. File photo
Crown says murder of seven-year-old in Langley was planned, deliberate

The trial of KerryAnn Lewis began Monday in New Westminster

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (B.C. government photo)
Unnamed school in Fraser Health region closed due to COVID-19

Closure announced by Dr. Bonnie Henry during daily briefing

Most Read