UBC captures first rugby sevens championship after undefeated season

The UBC women’s rugby sevens team swept their third tournament this weekend at Thunderbird Stadium with a 17–7 win over the University of Victoria Vikes, earning their first rugby sevens Canada West championship. They had a perfect 15–0 season record.

UBC swept the first tournament, starting off strong with stand-out performances from third-year Savannah Bauder and first-year Tia Jordo. The ‘Birds continued their dominance in the second tournament in Victoria. The University of Calgary Dinos and the Vikes rounded out the podium in both tournaments.

The Dinos and Vikes play a very similar game to the Thunderbirds. All teams like a fast and aggressive game, with long runs up the sides of the field. Defensively, they all hold a strong line and are good at stopping any line breaks. Being so evenly matched in play style, it’s no surprise that the Dinos and Vikes are the T-Birds’ biggest competition.

“[The deciding factor] is just who wants it more,” said Darcy Patterson, head coach of UBC’s rugby sevens team, about the tournament matchups.

But being on home turf gave the ‘Birds a slight edge over their competition.

“For a lot of the seniors and the vets [on the team], this is the last time they get to play at home for sevens and play for this team for sevens ever. So I think they want to come home with a big showing,” said Patterson.

And a big showing they put on. UBC opened the tournament with a dominant 78–0 win over the University of Regina Cougars before defeating the University of Alberta Pandas 40–0 and the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns 33–10.

Because the rugby sevens season is comprised of three tournaments and the championship is awarded based on cumulative points, UBC had already clinched their championship at the end of the first day. But that didn’t mean the ‘Birds would let up for their final two games.

“Coming into this tournament, we wanted to go a whole season undefeated,” said fifth-year Shoshanah Seumanutafa. “We didn't put a lot of pressure on ourselves, but we kind of held ourselves to the expectation that we had to complete.”

The Thunderbirds faced the Dinos in the semi-finals and despite looking similar on paper, the ‘Birds were on another level. Bauder opened the scoring in the second minute, and rookies Jordo and Grace Turner both scored just before the half to make the score 15–0. UBC senior Rori Wood widened the gap in the eighth minute and a successful convert made the score 22–0. The Dinos managed to score a try after breaking through two T-Birds, but it wasn’t enough to make up the 17-point deficit. The Thunderbirds scored 12 more points to end the game at 34–5.

For the tournament final, it was the Canada West reigning champions Vikes versus the ‘Birds. The Vikes scored first after an inside line break, but Bauder scored two minutes later to even the score 7–7. In the second half, Seumanutafa got a line break and got within meters of the try line when she was taken down. She offloaded the ball to Bauder, who scored the game-winning try. Kally King got a try in the corner in the last minute of the game, sealing their undefeated win streak with a final score of 17–7.

Despite the falling rain and overcast skies, the team jumped with wide smiles when co-captains Seumanutafua and senior Alayna Scramstad finally brought the coveted championship banner to the team.

“It's pretty exciting. I think the team itself has been working towards this for a really long time. So to actually be able to do it has been pretty incredible,” said Patterson. “I’m extremely proud of them.”