Vikes win first Canada West women’s rugby title

Jess Neilson of UVic Vikes named Canada West MVP, Brittany Waters wins coach of the year

It’s a new age for the UVic Vikes as the women’s rugby team which won its first ever Canada West rugby championship.

The Vikes topped the Lethbridge Pronghorns 50-17 in Sunday’s Canada West final at the Ellerslie Rugby Parkin Edmonton. It was the second win for the Vikes in three days as they ended the Alberta Pandas’ three-year run as Canada West champs with a 26-20 win in the semifinal on Friday.

The Friday win secured the Vikes a spot at the CIS Championship, hosted Nov. 4-8 in Kingston, Ont., alongside Lethbridge.

“This victory puts Victoria on the Canada West rugby map, and bodes well for our futures,” said Vikes first-year head coach Brittany Waters. “I’m really proud of this win and our effort today. The girls believed in themselves and this only boosts their confidence.”

It will be the Vikes second appearance at a CIS Championship, following their 2005 appearance.

The Vikes took several awards following the Canada West final. Fly half Jess Neilson was named MVP for finishing first in playoff points with 26, second in regular season points (26) and first in regular season converts (13). Brilliant new No. 8 Gabrielle Senft won the Rookie of the Year award while Waters was named Coach of the Year and Shannon Fitzpatrick won the Student-Athlete Community Service award.

Seven different Vikes scored tries on Sunday: Caitlin Harvey, Senft, Sya Trafford, Nakisa Levale, Channelle Edwards-Challenger, Angela Thompson and Neilson.

On Friday Edwards-Challenger led the Vikes past the Pandas with an extra-time try, her third of the day. Senft also scored a try. Neilson hit three of four converts.