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Coquitlam school's girls' rugby provincial championship the culmination of a 'labour of love'

The Gleneagle Talons defeated Yale 21-0 in last Saturday's, June 1, AAA provincial final.
The Gleneagle Talons celebrate their victory in the AAA high school girls rugby provincial championship.

For the Gleneagle Talons senior girls' rugby team, its 21-0 win over Yale in last Saturday’s, June 1, BC Secondary Schools Rugby Union AAA final was a measure of revenge for a loss to the same side in the 2023 championship.

For coach Simon Quinto, though, the victory was the culmination of a years-long "labour of love" to rebuild the school’s rugby program and raise the sport’s level in the Tri-Cities and across the province.

“It felt like rebuilding a house that had a lot of history,” said Quinto of Gleneagle’s rugby program that had won provincial banners six times in the past. “We needed to bring back the reputation of being a top contender.”


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The Talons went into the championship final in Abbotsford ranked first in the province.

More importantly, though, Quinto said they were better prepared, healthier and more able to cope with the rigorous schedule of playing three tough games in four days.

He said it “takes a lot of player management and depth on the roster to ensure we stay healthy. We were able to rest key players who needed it in the first two rounds.”

By the time Gleneagle reached the final against Yale, the players were determined they wouldn’t be denied again even as the defending champions relentlessly pressed the attack in the first 10 minutes.

“We talked about taking pride in the physicality of our tackles and to create turnovers from our counterattacks,” Quinto said.

A try by Grade 11 flanker Evy Moore broke the dam, followed soon after by another from Grade 11 prop Sasha McKee.

The Talons were off and flying.

Tough defence by juniors Poppy-Anne Alcock and Emilie Sinclair, sophomore Arielle Hunter and senior Natalie Zagorwicz kept Yale at bay and a third try in the closing minutes of the match by Sasha McKee sealed the deal. Grade 12 winger Ruby Hanna was successful on all three conversions.

Quinto said girls high school rugby in the Tri-Cities has progressed substantially in recent years. The coaching is better and teams are playing with more structure and variance in their attack. The athletes are also getting bigger, faster and stronger.

“We are part of some really exciting rugby,” he said.