Laura Chechalk continues to carry the ball for St. Jean de Brebeuf rugby.
It was largely through her efforts that the east Mountain high school was able to debut a girls’ rugby program in the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association.
“She was one of the key people that pushed for rugby,” said Sebastian Krupinski, the Braves co-coach along with Jon Sanderson. “Her and three other players pushed for it last year.”
Fittingly, the first member of the Braves to hoist the championship trophy on Friday (May 24) was Chechalk, the team captain. First-place Brebeuf earned the league title with a 10-0 victory over the Bishop Ryan Celtics at Mohawk Sports Complex. Brebeuf and BR each advance to the Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference Triple A/Quad semi-final playoffs Monday (May 27).
“That’s true,” Chechalk said of the players’ request for girls’ rugby at Brebeuf. “The boys had it, so we really wanted to do it. Three years ago I asked some teacher/supervisors to help us out and get it through.”
Brebeuf advanced to the final last season before losing the title game to the Cathedral Gaels. The Braves have gone undefeated in six starts this season, outscoring their opponents 186-12.
Outside centre Alize Spalding-Lawrence made a long run to open the scoring for the Braves. Chechalk, who recently won an Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations wrestling gold medal in the 54-kilogram division, then scored Brebeuf’s final try after an impressive long carry by Jonique Gardien set it up.
“She was so close to the line,” fly half Chechalk said. “But I picked it up and scored the try.
Bishop Ryan gave the Braves a battle after losing their regular-season game against Brebeuf, 36-0. “To hold them to only 10 points was a huge step,” Celtics coach Dylan Gruba said. “Our rucking was phenomenal to keep ball retention. Our girls held up, I’m very proud of them.”
During recent playoff action in the six-team HWCAA girls’ loop, the Celtics won 56-12 over the Cardinal Newman Cardinals and 10-0 over the St. Mary Crusaders.
Said Krupinski: “(Bishop Ryan) stepped up and gave us a great game. It was close. The main element was we moved the ball out to the wing a lot better and we got around their players to run it down field.”
Other players on the Brave roster are Alessia Alfieri, Naz Alvarez-Barker, Grace Babin, Sandra Bay, Makayla Bisson, Torry Bostock, Michelle Botelho, Kindle Boyd, Alex Chalmers, Vickie Doan, Jessica Georgis, Rachiel Gyimah, Joanne Hignett, Olita Jabwo, Kassidy Kingston, Ashley Lourenco, Tamika Lubin, Tamiah Lubin, Joanne Mah, Alyssa Mapili, Rebecca Moore, Cassidy Noonan, Margaux Parker, Chelsea Quindipan, Jackie Shamo, Alanna Simpson, Kyla Simpson, Emily Talya, Aliyah Theobald, Humna Wasim and Milania Yaaqub.
Jabwo is the sister of McMaster Marauders all-star football linebacker, Aram Eisho.
The Celtics face Oakville Trafalgar at 3:30 p.m. on Monday at Burlington’s Sherwood Forest Park. The other GHAC semi-final matches Brebeuf against Georgetown Christ the King. That will be a 2 p.m. start at Mohawk Sports Complex. The final is scheduled for Tuesday at Mohawk SC at 2 p.m.