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All-West End Final Caps VA Season

  • 24 May 2016

Virginia state championship MVP Elizabeth Wilson /// Photo: Rachel Applegate Thorne

West End took matters into its own hands this year. A huge roster allowed the Ruckettes to field two full sides, so the Virginia program entered two separate teams into the Virginia Division I competition. There was some distinction – West End Blue was more experienced than West End White – but the teams proved to be the best in the state as they advanced to the championship final last weekend.

West End White had to take one extra step than West End Blue, which received a bye into the final. Fairfax Police wanted a shot at the trophy and played a gritty semifinal against White. Backed by the full weight of the club, MVP and flyhalf Kayla Estes led her side to a 31-22 victory and berth to the title bout.

“At first, it was kinda tough to get ramped up,” West End coach Matt Estes said of the build-up to the state final. “I wanted to keep practice light and relaxed, but also didn’t want to take too much away from the game – it was still a state championship, but more importantly, it was the seniors’ last games in a West End jersey. We also wanted to respect our wounded warriors.”

The players snapped into competitive mode, especially after the White team dotted down the first try of the final in the opening minutes. The back-and-forth commenced, and the White team triumphed 44-41.

“The game really exemplified the way we play strong defense, and how we use crisp fundamentals on attack with good movement and distribution,” Estes said. “When it’s all said and done, I’m very happy that it was the game it was, because we closed out the season together and got the most competitive scenario for both teams in their last games.”

The final also showcased the depth and future of the program. Championship MVP and junior flanker Elizabeth Wilson set the example, while rising talent like Estes, fullback Stephanie Takenaka and McKay Green excite with things to come.

“She did a good job of controlling the tempo of the forwards and had some strong runs,” Estes said of the MVP. “She moved to scrumhalf later in the game and was a good distributor. She’s unique because she’s so talented and flexible that she can play in the backs if we need her to.”

The rugby season is nowhere near over for West End. Fourteen players are competing on the Virginia All Stars, which will send varsity and JV teams to the Regional Cup Tournament in Charlotte, N.C. During summer 7s, top players have aligned with Atlantis and Scion for additional playing opportunities, and make room for the 5th through 8th graders looking to train alongside the high schoolers this summer.

And this fall, another evolution awaits.

“The way teams are growing on the East Coast, and Morris’ performance at nationals, the girls want to play in the fall,” said Estes, whose team contributed $500 to Morris’ fundraising campaign to nationals. “We have the numbers, we have the support, so if the girls want to put in the work, then we’ll give them the opportunities.”

Estes indicated that he will reach out to Morris coach Tom Feury, among other higher-level teams in the region, for fall friendlies and fixtures. The duo was key in building up the Northeast Invitational and getting the top East Coast teams playing each other.

Check out the full list of state champions this year.

#WestEnd #statechampionship

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