Rugby: West Coast Wolves run in the same pack

The West Coast Wolves are still Vancouver’s only high school girls rugby team but their home turf moved this season from Lord Byng to Kitsilano secondary.
Players from four public and three private schools now congregate at Connaught Park for weekly practices, and the Wolves head coach believes there is enough interest for a second team.
“I’d like to try to expand rugby in Vancouver,” said Ceara Mullins, a teacher at University Hill who started the team four years ago when she worked at Lord Byng.
“There are a lot of people who say the demographics are wrong, but I find that when I advertise and let students know, there’s a lot of interest. Women’s rugby in the Lower Mainland is not really doing well at the senior level and I think the high schools are where it starts.”
The Wolves play in the B.C. High School Girls Rugby Association and qualified for provincials in their past two seasons. But because they’re an amalgamation of students from seven different schools, they can’t legitimately win the B.C. title, explained Mullins. A team can include a maximum of three players from other schools as long as those schools don’t have a team of their own.
The Wolves form a unique pack. In a city where private and public school sports leagues are not integrated, the Wolves play together under the same colours.
The team runs out of Kitsilano because of teacher-sponsor Jesse Caswell and because an influential player who’s since graduated drummed up interest amongst her friends. Elizabeth Theemes-Golding, a Kitsilano graduate, returned to coach the Wolves and several former players now compete for the UBC Thunderbirds.
On a roster of 23 players, 12 come from Kitsilano and the team captain Erica Dickson is among them.
“Every year there is a big turnover of players. This year there are a lot of Grade 12s and this is their fist year playing rugby. Next year there will be new players,” said Dickson, 17. “We are trying to get more Grade 8s and 9s so they can be on the team for three or four years and play together.”
When she signed up in Grade 10, Dickson was the only Hamber player on the team before she transferred to Kitsilano. She fell in love with the sport and has since started playing club rugby for the Meralomas.
She remembers, in their second season, when the team named itself the Wolves.
“We didn’t want to call it by one school’s name. It was between the Wolves and the Whales or something like that,” she said.
The Wolves start their exhibition season now, but their first game was one Dickson remembers best. Playing a North Shore team at Brockton Oval, the Wolves trailed by 10 points and rallied to win the game.
“We came back to score three tries,” said Dickson. “It was a lot of teamwork.”

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