Vikes ready to take on rugby’s best

UVic takes on Guelph at Thursday's opener of women's rugby championships

UVic Vikes prop Chelsea Minter is back with the team nine years after her first CIS game in 2008. Minter and the Vikes begin the chase for a national championship Thursday.

UVic Vikes prop Chelsea Minter is back with the team nine years after her first CIS game in 2008. Minter and the Vikes begin the chase for a national championship Thursday.

It’s go time at Centennial Stadium as the first of two national university championships at the University of Victoria starts Thursday when the Vikes kick off the women’s rugby championship against the Guelph Gryphons in a quarterfinal match, 7 p.m. at Centennial Stadium.

See schedule below/buy tickets here:

Getting the rugby championship has been a boost for the Vikes program, as the women’s team has finally lurched ahead out of a decade with little to no progress.

It boasts national level talents throughout the starting 15 and in the coaching ranks as well with Vikes head coach Brittany Waters, and assistant coaches Barbara Mervin, Laura Russell and Julianne Zussman. All are part of the national team and played in the 2013 Women’s Rugby World Cup.

The Vikes are coming off a second straight trip to the Canada West final in Lethbridge last week. The Vikes were unable to defend their 2015 Canada West title, losing 29-14 to the Calgary Dinos.

The Vikes emerged as a top program in Canada last year when it won two straight victories to capture the school’s first-ever Canada West title and then won three games at the CIS National Championship to finish fifth in the nation.

“Having two great games under our belt from [the Canada West championships] and showing that we can fight for 80 minutes will be key for facing our quarter-final opponent,” Waters said. “[Last week was] crucial for improving on what let us down [at Canada West] so we can put in our best performance at nationals.”

Breaking down the Vikes team, it is very strong in all areas, and has the capability to beat any team in Canada. But rugby is a matter of execution.

“Calgary has had a great season and put in a very strong performance [in the Canada West final],” Waters said. “They executed their game plan well… It would be great to face them again at nationals and see what the result would be if we walked away with points every time we were near their try line rather than the turnovers that we had [that day].”

The recruitment class of three years ago was a pivotal turning point as Rugby Canada recommended to players such as up-and-coming national team fly half Jess Neilson, that playing at UVic is part of an ideal path to wearing red full time.

With Neilson already as good as it gets in university rugby at the No. 10 spot, the Vikes then added exceptional talents.

Up front is Chelsea Minter, a prop who started with the Vikes nine years ago but left after two seasons. In the meantime, Minter won multiple provincial championships with the Westshore (Velox) Valhallians during their Saanich tenure.

The fifth-year has been through it all in her Vikes career. From the lows of season-long losing streaks to the highs of back-to-back berths at the national championships, she’s seen the program mature into a contender.

“Watching the team grow and build has been amazing, In the last three years there have been so many big steps to get this program to a level where it can contend with the other top teams in the nation,” Minter said.

Minter and Neilson are two of the four Vikes named Canada West All-Stars this year.

Back row forward Julia Folk was also listed to the All-Star team, as was Madeleine Graham, the third-year who is part of the Vikes dangerous backfield. That backfield also includes Chanelle Edwards-Challenger, who’s in the pipeline for Canada’s powerful women’s sevens program.

It doesn’t end there, as in the thick of the Vikes’ fast transition is Gabby Senft, the No. 8 who won last season’s Rookie Of The Year, and a member of the national team’s development program.

“There is going to be great rugby played at this tournament and that drives me to try and be the best that I can be,” Senft said. “The best is yet to come.”

The tourney starts with four quarterfinal matches between Wallace Field and Centennial on Thursday. The semifinals are Friday, 5 and 7 p.m. at Centennial, followed by consolation semifinals on Saturday, and the bronze. The consolation final is Sunday, 11 a.m. at Wallace Field. The bronze and gold medal games are at 1 and 3 p.m., respectively, at Centennial Stadium on Sunday.

The other six teams taking part are McMaster, Acadia, Calgary, St. Francis Xavier, Ottawa and Concordia.

 

CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE (All times Pacific Time)

Wednesday, Nov. 2

6:30 p.m. All-Canadian Awards Gala (Harbour Towers Hotel & Suites) Thursday, Nov. 3

Noon Quarter-final 1: No. 3 Calgary vs. No. 6 Acadia2 p.m. Quarter-final 2: No. 2 Ottawa vs. No. 7 McMaster5 p.m. Quarter-final 3: No. 4 StFX vs. No. 5 Concordia7 p.m. Quarter-final 4: No. 1 Guelph vs. No. 8 VictoriaFriday, Nov. 4

5 p.m. Semifinal 1: Winner QF 1 vs. Winner QF 27 p.m. Semifinal 2: Winner QF 3 vs. Winner QF 4Saturday, Nov. 5

Noon Consolation 1: Loser QF 1 vs. Loser QF 22 p.m. Consolation 2: Loser QF 3 vs. Loser QF 4Sunday, Nov. 6

11 a.m. Fifth place1 p.m. Bronze medal3 p.m. Championship final – Centennial Stadium

 

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

Just Posted

Members of the Victoria Police Department, some of whom are shown here observing a moment of silence for victims of a mass shooting in Nova Scotia, experience stress and potential trauma more than most other workers, says Chief Const. Del Manak. While the number of shifts lost at VicPD are soaring, he sees it as a sign people are taking their own health and wellness seriously. (Black Press Media file photo)
Skyrocketing number of lost shifts at Victoria police has a positive side, chief says

Chief Const. Del Manak says officers, staff being more proactive looking after their mental health

A Seed and Stone rendering for White Rock, B.C. (Seed and Stone rendering)
Songhees Nation to open two Victoria cannabis stores spring 2021

Seed and Stone stores will open on Gordon Street and in the Bay Centre

A water taxi at Victoria’s Fisherman’s Wharf. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria man arrested after stealing water taxi, racing it up Gorge Waterway

Man is facing recommended charges of theft over $5,000

Inmates at Metchosin’s William Head Institution are being given COVID-19 vaccines as part of the first phase. Around 600 inmates will be vaccinated in the coming days. (Black Press Media file photo)
William Head inmates in Metchosin receive their first doses of COVID vaccine

Priority set for older inmates and those with underlying medical conditions

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson is humbled to her knees as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Ucluelet paddle boarder surrounded by pod of orcas

“My whole body is still shaking. I don’t even know what to do with this energy.”

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

A mattress on fire gutted the second floor hallway at Town Park Apartments C-block Jan. 17. (Port Hardy Fire Rescue images)
‘Suspicious’ Port Hardy apartment fire could keep tenants out of their homes for months

A burning mattress created smoke and heat, causing several tenants to jump from windows

Cranbrook Food Bank coordinator Deanna Kemperman, Potluck Cafe Society executive director Naved Noorani and Sunshine Coast Community Services Society executive director Catherine Leach join B.C.’s new Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne on a video call about B.C. gaming grants, Jan. 19, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. gaming grants reorganized for COVID-19 priorities

Minister highlights community kitchens, food banks

(Pixabay photo)
‘Cocaine bananas’ arrive at Kelowna grocery stores after mix up from Colombia: RCMP

Kelowna RCMP recently concluded an international drug investigation after finding cocaine in local grocers’ banana shipments in 2019

Most Read