Cowichan Piggies junior players Iain Anderton-Teasdale and Jaxson Jones won gold with the BC Bears in the U16 and U18 divisions, respectively, at the Western Canadian Rugby Championships. (Becky Teasdale photo)

Cowichan Piggies junior players Iain Anderton-Teasdale and Jaxson Jones won gold with the BC Bears in the U16 and U18 divisions, respectively, at the Western Canadian Rugby Championships. (Becky Teasdale photo)

Cowichan players help BC Bears to gold sweep at Western Canadian Rugby Championships

Bears finish first in boys and girls U16 and U18 divisions

The Western Canada Rugby Championships returned in July for the first time since 2019, and a host of Cowichan Valley athletes were involved as B.C. won gold in all four divisions.

The tournament took place in Kelowna on July 28-31, bringing together teams from B.C., Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Washington-based Pacific Northwest Loggers. A total of six B.C. Bears teams took part, winning gold medals in the U16 and U18 boys and girls divisions.

Iain Anderton-Teasdale was the lone Cowichan Valley player in the U16 boys division, winning gold with the BC Bears Blue side. The division included two B.C. entries — Blue and Gold — as well as provincial teams from Manitoba and Alberta. Anderton-Teasdale and BC Blue went undefeated through the tournament, including a thrilling 3-0 win over BC Gold and a 19-14 victory over the Alberta Wolfpack in the gold-medal game. BC Gold won the bronze medal over Manitoba.

The B.C. U16 girls, who had no Cowichan Valley content, went undefeated in round-robin play, then beat Manitoba in the semifinals before defeating Alberta 38-0 in the final.

BC Rugby fielded two U18 boys teams: Blue and Gold, with Cowichan Valley representation on both squads. Jaxson Jones and Trekker James suited up for the Blue side, which went undefeated on its way to first place, and triplets Corbin, Damian and Tanner Hennessy played for the Gold team, which finished third. The Blue team outscored its opponents 105-10, allowing all 10 points to BC Gold.

The B.C. U18 girls, with Cowichan’s Morgan Davidson and Ava Ference on the roster, also went undefeated in a division that included Alberta and a combined Manitoba-Saskatchewan team. The Bears beat Alberta and Manitoba-Saskatchewan twice each in pool play, then got past Alberta 12-5 again in the final.

The Western Canadian Championships also featured a rugby sevens doubleheader between the BC Bears and Alberta Wolfpack U23 teams. The Bears, who included Duncan’s Macy Wiebe, Skye Koyote, Maxine O’Leary and Victoria Van Niekerk, won both ends of the doubleheader, 32-0 and 32-17.

Held concurrently with the championships in Kelowna was the 2022 SummerFest Rugby 7s Tournament. The BC Bears entry in SummerFest included Cowichan Valley products George Barton and Danny Hamstra, as well as Shawnigan Lake School grads Mostyn Findlay and Ollie Nott, with Duncan’s Robin MacDowell serving as head coach. The Bears were edged out for first place, however, by the Victoria-based San Capri Marlins, who included Cowichan-connected Sîon Griffiths, Zephyr Melnyk, Jacob Bossi and Taylor de Souza.

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