UBC Win 4th Consecutive CanWest XVs Title: UVic Finish 2nd – National Finals in Quebec City November 1-5
UBC won their 4th consecutive CanWest title with the UVic Vikes finishing 2nd. Both teams will advance to the national finals in Quebec City from November 1st to 5th.
The gold medal match of the 2023 Canada West Rugby 15s Championship featured a showdown between the UBC Thunderbirds and University of Victoria Vikes, with the Thunderbirds emerging with a 10-0 victory to claim their fourth consecutive Canada West title. The T-Birds defeated the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns on Thursday evening to earn their spot in the Championship, while the Vikes defeated the Pandas in the second semifinal.
Sunday afternoon’s match at the University of Lethbridge Community Stadium was a battle in cold conditions. The teams played a scoreless first half in the Championship final. The second half saw the Thunderbirds pull away thanks to the Canada West MVP, Savannah Bauder. Bauder would first score a penalty goal to put the ‘Birds ahead, before scoring a try and convert to give UBC a 10-0 lead.
A UBC scrum in the 17th minute of the game pushed the ‘Birds deep into Vikes territory. Alayna Scramstad came through with a big carry for the Thunderbirds, but a goal line drop sent the Vikes on the offensive. Trading places, in the 26th minute, Victoria opted for a scrum to make an offensive drive but couldn’t scratch the scoreboard.
The Thunderbirds followed with a number of kicks making their way down the field, gaining ground as the conditions proved difficult for the Vikes to make catches. While the Thunderbirds continued on the offensive, the Vikes were able to come up with a number of desperation stops to hold the Thunderbirds scoreless.
The first points of the game didn’t come until the 54th minute, as Bauder capitalized on the penalty to give the Thunderbirds a three-point lead over the Vikes. In the 62nd minute, UBC followed up by making a push across the line, as the ball bounced back but was quickly scooped up by Bauder who would score the game’s only try. Bauder completed the convert as well to give the Thunderbirds the lead.
The Vikes fought tooth and nail down the stretch, with both teams opting for kicks to try to make headway. Through the final minutes of the game, the Thunderbirds made another march into Vikes territory but were unable to add to their lead.
As the referee blew the final whistle at the University of Lethbridge Community Stadium, it was the UBC Thunderbirds who defeated the University of Victoria Vikes 10-0 and took home the title of 2023 Canada West Rugby 15s Champions.
UBC’s Savannah Bauder has earned the conference’s Player of the Year award, the cherry on top of another remarkable season where she led the Thunderbirds to their fourth-straight conference title earlier this afternoon.
Bauder and the Thunderbirds braved the elements on a frigid afternoon in Lethbridge, using a big second half effort to defeat rival Victoria 10-0 in a tightly contested defensive battle.
UBC coach Dean Murten was named the 2023 Rugby 15s Coach of the Year, adding another accolade to his impressive tenure at the helm of the T-Birds. Adia Pye of UBC was named the conference’s Rookie of the Year, while Victoria’s Soleil Brooks earned the Student-Athlete Community Service Award.
The Rugby 15’s 2023 All-Star roster has also been announced, highlighted by seven T-Birds earning All-Star nods.
MAJOR AWARD WINNERS & ALL-STARS
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Savannah Bauder (UBC)
North Vancouver, BC
Bauder was simply unstoppable again this season, playing an instrumental role in helping lead the T-Birds to an undefeated season and the CW championship.
The fourth-year fly half led the conference in scoring with 70 points during the regular season, including seven tries and an impressive 16 converts. She also put forth a monster perforance at the 2023 CW Championships, scoring three tries in the T-Birds 52-5 win over Lethbridge win in the semifinals.
In a tightly contested gold medal game against Victoria, Bauder scored all ten of her teams points in a 10-0 win.
The North Vancouver product has played a large part in building the T-Birds recent dynasty, as UBC have now claimed the past four CW championships.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Adia Pye (UBC)
Pye burst onto the Canada West scene in a huge way for the Thunderbirds. Showcasing breakaway speed, the first-year Victoria product scored an incredible conference leading 11 tries for UBC, four more than any other player.
It didn’t take long for the Victoria product to establish her dominance offensively, as she was named the U SPORTS Rugby Player of the Week on Sept. 20 after putting up four tries against Alberta, all in just her second career conference game.
She stepped her game up to another level in the postseason, scoring three tries in the first half of the T-Birds semifinal win over Lethbridge, before eventually helping the T-Birds claim the conference championship with a win over Victoria in the final.
STUDENT-ATHLETE COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD: Soleil Brooks
Hometown: Abbotsford, B.C.
Faculty/Program: Indigenous Studies
Brooks has been awarded the 2023 CW Student-Athlete Community Service award, acknowledging her tremendous contributions both on-and-off the field of competition.
Since Soleil joined the Vikes, she has continually given back to the rugby community and strived to make her university a better place. She was named the Lt Col. W.D.C Holmes award recipient at the 2022 U SPORT Championships for her volunteer efforts, and has continued those tremendous efforts into this season. Soleil started the UVIC Collective for BIPOC Student Athletes, a group that aims to give Varsity student athletes of colour a space to connect and create change on campus. The goal of this group is to also build a mentorship program with young black athletes in the Victoria area.
Soleil also leads educational sessions regarding racism and Black History Month with other Vikes varsity teams , and has been involved with BC Grassroots Rugby, a non profit that connects Indigenous youth with rugby and their culture. She has also given back by coaching the Westshore RFC Minis.
Her coaches describe Soleil as an extremely passionate and hard working student-athlete who is always striving to making herself and those around her better. Her athletic goal is to play for the Canadian National team and this summer she was selected to the U20 Canada team.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Dean Murten
Dean Murten earns his fourth-straight CW Coach of the Year title as his UBC Thunderbirds cemented their status as a modern day dynasty, taking home their fourth-straight conference banner on Sunday.
Murten has spent significant time growing the game of Rugby in Canada, as the national team coach for the 17 and under, 18 and under, and 19 and under squads. Under his guidance, UBC has now gone unbeaten in three straight Canada West seasons since 2020.
Rori Wood, UBC, Front Row
Zoe Williams, VIC, Front Row
Jordan McLeod, UBC, Front Row
Jada Holtcamp, LET, Lock
Daisey Shackley, CGY, Lock
Shelby Pierce, ALB, Back Row
Rachel Smith, UBC, Back Row
Madi Jumeau, VIC, Back Row
Alayna Scamstad, UBC, Scrum
Savannah Bauder, UBC, Fly Half
Sara Kaljuvee, UBC, Centre
Maggie MacKinnon, VIC, Centre
Kenya Richards, LET, Back Three
Olivia Sarabura, UBC, Back Three
Lucie Romeo, VIC, Back Three