July 5, 2017

This year, the girls were not going to be denied.

Thompson Okanagan Rugby Alliance (TORA), a team loaded with Kamloops talent, beat Fraser Valley 12-7 in the final of the under-18 girls’ Provincial Regional Championship (PRC) tournament on the weekend in Burnaby.

“We won silver last year and bronze the year before, but this year we finally won it,” said TORA head coach Andy Van Kuyk, who also coaches the girls at Valleyview secondary.

Ten players from the Tournament Capital helped Thompson-Okanagan claim its first PRC title — captain Grace Campbell, assistant captain Maddie Avery, assistant captain Tanika Bonneville, Sadie Masson, Talor Mintz, Emily Konkin, Lizzy Gotuaco, Kally King, Hailey Chambers and Julia Cantin.

“The team I chose was size and speed,” said Van Kuyk, who held tryouts in Kamloops and Kelowna, cutting 20 girls to form a team of 25. “We wanted to go down and punish teams and that’s the comments we got. We dominated teams with our size, speed and skill.”

TORA had little trouble rolling through the round-robin undefeated, beating North Vancouver Island 43-0, Fraser Valley West 58-0 and Vancouver Rugby Union 17-7.

The Thompson-Okanagan girls bested Vancouver South Rugby Union 22-15 in semifinal action before squeaking past Fraser Valley to claim gold.

“We thought we were going to dominate Fraser Valley and maybe that got into our heads a little bit,” Van Kuyk said.

Assistant coach Jesse Olynyk and manager Sondra Van Kuyk round out the team’s Kamloops contingent.

The squad also included players from Merritt, Lillooet, Salmon Arm, Vernon, Lake Country, Kelowna, Penticton, Nelson, Williams Lake and Alexis Creek.

Kally King and TORA team