Last-play try gives Centre Dufferin first girls’ rugby title
FERGUS – Whoever won the District 4/10 high school girls’ rugby final Thursday at Victoria Park was going to be a first-time champion.
That was guaranteed ahead of time when a pair of AA squads advanced to the championship game.
The Centre Dufferin Royals of Shelburne and Erin Raiders turned in a dandy of a final, the Royals winning 17-12 with a try on the very last play of the game. The ball was touched down, the whistle went and that was it.
“This is the first championship in our school’s history,” Centre Dufferin coach Adrian Brown said after the championship plaque had been presented and photos had been taken. “This is the first time we’ve ever won rugby districts. It’s our first time in having a girls’ team in about a decade so to come up and beat a couple of AAA schools and then have just an absolute monster game against Erin. That was the best high school rugby I’ve witnessed. It sucks that only one of us gets to go to CWOSSA so there was a lot riding on it. Both of us are probably the top two teams in the region. A lot of these girls have played rugby for about two months now and they played well above that.”
The teams took their turns dominating play, but Centre Dufferin went on the attack late and it paid off.
“We won on the last play of the game. I couldn’t watch it,” Brown said. “To battle through a yellow card, to battle right through to the end of the game like that and to overcome what we overcame today, that was incredible.”
Centre Dufferin hadn’t fielded a team in the league since 2016 when they lost all four matches they played and were outscored 135-2 in the season. They had a tie in five outings the previous season.
Those numbers and a return to the league didn’t exactly bode well for the Royals this season, but there were early indications that this might just be their year.
“It might come as a shock to some,” Brown said of the title win. “After watching the talent that we had after the first couple practices of our season, this was our goal. We set it early and the girls worked and they earned this. They put in a ton of work and they absolutely earned this win. Now we just continue on until OFSAA.”
In the regular season, the Royals started with a 22-17 win over the Orangeville Bears, then lost 15-7 to Erin in a game that essentially decided first place. They completed the regular season with a 22-7 win over the Centre Wellington Falcons and then dropped the Guelph CVI Green Gaels, first-place finishers in the other pool, 29-5 in the semifinals.
Now it’s on to the CWOSSA A/AA championship tournament in Owen Sound May 20 and 24. The Royals will be placed in a pool with the top A/AA team from District 5/9 (Paris) and the second team from District 1/7 (either Sacred Heart of Walkerton or St. Mary’s of Owen Sound, it’ll be decided Monday) and are to play May 20 at 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. If they finish first in their pool, they’ll return May 24 to play in the 1 p.m. championship match.
“I don’t know too much about some of the other schools,” Brown said. “It’s been one of those times where we just haven’t seen a lot of the other schools. Now we get to see some of the top schools in the other regions and it’ll probably be three more tough games, but I think our team is up for it.”
Orangeville Bears wrapped up their season with a 26-17 victory over the Bishop Macdonell Celtics.
Mackenzie Mills had a try and three converts for the winning Bears while Vanessa Kamara scored two tries and Olivia McLeod added one try.
Kayah Adamuszewski hit for two tries for Bishop Mac while Maddie Rossit had one try and Emma Graham added a convert.
While the Bears left the field happy with the win, they also left wondering how their season might have gone had they not had to forfeit their final regular-season game to Erin due to a COVID outbreak on the team.
Erin finished first in Pool A at 3-0-0, Centre Dufferin second at 2-1-0, Orangeville third at 1-2-0 and Centre Wellington fourth at 0-3-0. Top two in the pool went into the championship semifinals while the top two advanced to the consolation semifinals.
Neither the Guelph CVI Green Gaels nor the Ross Royals made it to the championship evening, but both advance to the CWOSSA AAA championship tournament as the D4/10’s representatives.
That tournament is to be held in Brantford at the Bisons Alumni/North Park Sports Complex with pool play Wednesday and the championship match Friday.
GCVI is in a pool with Brantford CI and Bluevale CI of Waterloo while Ross is in a pool with Kitchener-Waterloo CVS (KCI) and Owen Sound DSS.
Wednesday, the Gaels are to play BCI at 1 p.m. and Bluevale at 4 p.m. while the Royals are to play KCI at 9 a.m. and Owen Sound at noon.
- Guelph Sports Journal