D.W. Poppy Redhawks wrapped up an undefeated season by taking gold at the B.C. Secondary School Rugby Provincial championship in Abbotsford June 4, the first time girls rugby was included in the event. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

D.W. Poppy Redhawks wrapped up an undefeated season by taking gold at the B.C. Secondary School Rugby Provincial championship in Abbotsford June 4, the first time girls rugby was included in the event. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

VIDEO: Langley’s unbeatable D.W. Poppy Redhawks team takes provincial girls AA rugby title

Top-ranked senior girls didn’t lose once

Langley’s D.W. Poppy Redhawks Senior Girls team have won their first-ever B.C. Secondary School Rugby Provincial championship, a nail-biter of a 29–27 victory over Courtenay’s Mark Isfeld School Ice on Saturday, June 4, to take the girls AA title.

It capped off an undefeated season for the school team, a pleased head coach Stuart Crowley noted.

“We didn’t lose a single one,” Crowley told the Langley Advance Times.

“We ran the table,” Crowley commented.

It was also the first time girls’ teams have been included in the provincial rugby championships, the result of lobbying by D.W. Poppy, with the support of other schools, to have the independent BC High School Girls Rugby Association merge into the B.C. School Sports (BCSS) umbrella.

A May 1, 2021 vote at the 53rd BCSS Annual General Meeting approved the addition of girls 15-a-side rugby, with girls seven-a-side rugby added as a demonstration sport.

D.W. Poppy Redhawks wrapped up an undefeated season by taking gold at the B.C. Secondary School Rugby Provincial championship in Abbotsford June 4, the first time girls rugby was included in the event. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

D.W. Poppy Redhawks wrapped up an undefeated season by taking gold at the B.C. Secondary School Rugby Provincial championship in Abbotsford June 4, the first time girls rugby was included in the event. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

There were 48 15-player boys and girls teams, including AAA, AA and junior-level teams from around the province, along with 32 rugby sevens.

D.W. Poppy began the four-day tournament by downing Brentwood 87–5 in the first round , then blanked Abbotsford 36–0 in the semi-final.

D.W. Poppy Redhawks wrapped up an undefeated season by taking gold at the B.C. Secondary School Rugby Provincial championship in Abbotsford June 4, the first time girls rugby was included in the event. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

D.W. Poppy Redhawks wrapped up an undefeated season by taking gold at the B.C. Secondary School Rugby Provincial championship in Abbotsford June 4, the first time girls rugby was included in the event. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Playing for gold at Exhibition Stadium in Abbotsford, the top-ranked Redhawks scored first, but the Ice were quick to respond, and by the second period, the Redhawks were behind 22-12.

D.W. Poppy came back to make it a 24-22, then Isfeld reclaimed the lead to make it 27-24, with less than 12 minutes to go.

That would be the last time Isfeld scored, however, with D.W. Poppy coming back to take the lead with less than five minutes to go, and holding off a determined last-minute charge by their rivals for the win.

Redhawks managed the win despite being down to 13 players after two D.W. Poppy players were yellow-carded.

Two weeks before the provincials, both the Redhawks boys and girls rugby teams won the Eastern Fraser Valley championship.

It was a “dream year,” Crowley remarked.

Some of the Grade 12 players on the girls team have already been scouted and signed with universities, including Langley-based Trinity Western, which will field incoming Spartans Ava Van Santen and Madi McGill, both wings.

Maria Michaux, a Redhawks scrum half, has committed to Carleton University Ravens in Ottawa.

D.W. Poppy Redhawks wrapped up an undefeated season by taking gold at the B.C. Secondary School Rugby Provincial championship in Abbotsford June 4, the first time girls rugby was included in the event. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

D.W. Poppy Redhawks wrapped up an undefeated season by taking gold at the B.C. Secondary School Rugby Provincial championship in Abbotsford June 4, the first time girls rugby was included in the event. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

In addition to the university-signed players, Crowley cited other notable members of the B.C. champion Redhawks team, including Shanon Heathfield (tight head prop), Brooke McLean (number eight position), Katie Foss (inside centre), flankers Hailey Hibbs and Devon Brown, along with Anaya Lalli (outside centre), Payton Bruvold (lock), Natassja Tanner (lock) and Julia Price (fly half).  

Redhawks ran a unusually large roster of 52 players during the season, a fact that allowed the senior girls to have 15-on-15 practices, something most of their rivals were unable to do.

It also meant that when the 15 Redhawks players took to the field for the gold medal match at the provincials, there were even more red shirts in the stand to cheer them on.

READ ALSO: D.W. Poppy rugby teams takes AA bronze at provincials

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Is there more to the story? Email: dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

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