Women's rugby falls to Alberta, end playoff chances

The Thunderbirds women’s rugby team ended their regular season on Friday with a loss to the University of Alberta Pandas, knocking them out of the running for the Canada West playoffs and the CIS Rugby Championships later this fall. 

“We’re just really disappointed. We had opportunities to actually put points up on the board and we didn’t walk away with that,” said Head Coach Maria Gallo after the game. “We did have some good individual performances, but ... as a team effort we just kind of let ourselves down in the middle of the field and the Pandas did a good job at seeing that weakness and going for it.” 

University of Alberta opened the scoring early with a try by centre Julia Goss minutes into the first half. Rebecca Fairbairn, the Pandas' centre, secured the two point conversion. Shortly after, Goss broke the line of defence again and scored her second try of the game. With another conversion, the Pandas were up 14-0 early in the half. 

An attempted conversion with 10 minutes to go in the first from UBC’s Paige Smith narrowly missed the goal posts, keeping the Thunderbirds off the scoreboard. 

Another try for the Pandas by Elizabeth Steele brought the scoreline to 19-0 for the visitors, followed shortly by another try from teammate Sara Haring and a conversion by Fairbairn. 

The teams headed into halftime with a scoreline heavily favouring the Pandas 26-0. 

Early in the second half, the Pandas' Fairbairn got sent to the sin-bin for a penalty, putting the Pandas a man down for the start of the half. Though UBC’s Ciara Malone made a long run upfield in an attempt to get the ‘Birds on the scoreboard, the Pandas kept the home team at bay for the duration of the penalty. Fairbairn came back to the field and saw an unscathed scoreline in favour of the visitors. 

In the last minutes of the match, the Thunderbirds managed to hold the Pandas off from scoring again as they made a final push into UBC’s end. T-Birds Madison Gold and Annabel Arnott brought the ball back up to half and, with a kick from Elizabeth Theems-Golding, settled play back into the visitors end. 

With the final whistle indicating the end of the match, the Thunderbirds finished the game with a 26-0 loss against the University of Alberta Pandas and finish their season with a 0-3-1 record.