Andrew Smith

Vancouver, BC: Capilano RFC are 2011 Lower Mainland men’s rugby champions after defeating Burnaby Lake Rugby Club 20-11 in the Spray Elite League’s Miller Cup final on Saturday afternoon.

A year after being relegated from the top tier of club rugby in British Columbia, things are looking up for West Vancouver’s Capilano RFC. The squad qualified for the 2011-2012 Premier League this past November, their Under-19s are provincial champions, and the senior program will be contesting for the coveted Rounsefell Cup in the new year’s Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League.

“I am pleased to see the turn around within our side from a year ago,” said Capilano head coach Tom Larisch. “We are playing with confidence and spirits are high at our club right now and that will carry over to the new year. We have brought back a culture of winning here and the club has a lot to be proud of.”

In Saturday’s clash with Lower Mainland rivals Burnaby Lake, Capilano never trailed despite playing under-manned for 20 minutes due to yellow cards.

“Today we won with old school heart,” Larisch added. “We didn’t execute like we should have but we won through effort.”

Capilano scrum half Matt Yanagiya opened the scoring early on with a penalty for a 3-0 lead. Burnaby’s Geoff Ryan responded with a penalty of his own, bringing the score to 3-3. Yanagiya would cross over shortly after and converted his own try to make it 10-3.

Capilano’s next try came off an intercepted pass. After grinding out several phases in front of the try line, a Burnaby pass was intercepted by Capilano centre Akio Tyler who ran three quarters of the field before off-loading to Mike Langley. Yanagiya converted Langley’s try and the Caps went into the break up 17-3.

Burnaby would open the scoring in the second half when Canadian Rugby Championship Player of the Year Jo Dolesau picked up a loose ball to score the Laker’s only try.

Capilano’s second half points came courtesy of a Yanagiya penalty, putting the Caps up 20-8. Ryan would notch Burnaby’s final points to bring the score line to 20-11.

“When you have the chance to play a team like Capilano, it gives us something to measure ourselves against,” said Burnaby Lake head coach Kris De Scossa. “We come away from today knowing what we have to work on and we look forward to playing them in the Premier League season.”

Capilano went 6-1 during the Spray Elite regular season and had previously beaten Burnaby Lake 10-5 back on October 15th. The matches between the two sides have been especially close with an tense rivalry.

“There has been a lot of controversy surrounding these two clubs and the rivalry goes back a long time. So to beat them twice in the same season means a lot to us,” said Capilano Captain Charlie Jones. “There is a lot of excitement around here about the direction the club is going in and we haven’t even reached our potential yet.”

Burnaby Lake take Spray Division One title

In the Spray Division One championship featuring the Bayside Sharks and Burnaby Lake Rugby Club, it was Burnaby who shocked the top seed, reversing a 15-0 deficit to win the Bell Irving Cup by a score of 20-15.

Bayside’s points came courtesy of tries by Sonan Tsering and Zachary Thorpe. Graham Rogers tacked on a conversion and penalty for the 15-0 lead before Burnaby Lake responded with 20 unanswered points. Brad Mchugh crossed over for Burnaby’s only try, while Nolan Shelley did the bulk of the damage kicking five penalties for 15 points.

“At half time we said we just needed to be patient and finish hard,” said Burnaby Lake head coach Dave Murphy. “We went into the second half with confidence. We held onto the ball, stayed patient and we executed.”

Burnaby Lake’s Divison One side are also defending provincial champions, having lifted the Ceili’s Cup last May.