Abbotsford and Rowers clash to headline provincial finals event at Klahanie Park

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Andrew Smith

May 8, 2013, Vancouver, BC (ISN) – A full slate of provincial rugby championships will be headlined by the Okanagan Spring Brewery League One final at Klahanie Park on Saturday, as defending champs Vancouver Rowing Club (11-5) will look to fend off Abbotsford RFC (11-4-1) for the tier two men’s title.

Abbotsford will also be vying for provincial titles in the Okanagan League Two Final against Surrey Beavers Athletic Association and will also challenge hosts Capilano RFC in the Third Division Tier B Final. The event kicks off at 11:00am with the Brit Lions of Delta scrumming down against Capilano in the Third Division Tier A Final. (full event schedule provided below).

In the main event at 4:00pm, Abbotsford will be looking to build on a gutsy 19-15 semifinal win over Velox RFC last weekend. The young squad is laden with talent that includes Fraser Valley reps Pat Shields and Chris Chalmers, BC U23 rep Lucas de Beer and former Canada-capped veteran Ryan McWhinney. Also included in the roster is McKechnie Cup-winning captain and Canadian national team prospect Aaron Flagg.

“I’m pretty sure this is the first time in our history that we have three teams in the provincial finals so there is a lot of excitement around the club right now,” said Abbotsford head coach Jason Young. “We have a lot of young guys with plenty of depth and they need experience in these types of [playoff] games.”

Abbotsford have won four straight matches and will have plenty of confidence having previously beaten Rowers on both occasions this season on Nov 3rd (29-3 Win) and March 23rd (28-5 Win).

“We know the league season is completely different from the playoffs. [Rowers] will be fired up and it will be determined on how the players manage their nerves and intensity on the day,” Young added.

For the Rowers, the last year has been about rebuilding and dealing with injuries that have seen them rely on the club’s depth.

“It was important for us coming off the championship win last year to not have that hangover slump,” said Rowers head coach Jeremy Sabell. “We also lost a number of our experienced players at the end of the season. That allowed for a lot of our younger players to gain experience at this level and work their way into the top side.”

Of last year’s championship roster, Sabell says only five of the starting XV will be in this week’s lineup.

“We have a very young back line anchored by one guy with lots of experience in Karl Mudzamba,” Sabell added. “Henry Recinos has stepped up and done an awesome job and we seem to be peaking at the right time.”

The Rowers were convincing 50-10 winners in last week’s semifinal against UBC and will hope to carry their momentum into this weekend’s matchup.

“Hopefully the weather holds as we will look to play a skill-based expansive game,” Sabell added. “We are the headliner match for mainland rugby on Saturday and are really up for it.”

Kick off is set for 4:00pm at Klahanie Park.


General Admission Tickets: $15, $10 for Youth (Under 15 or students with valid ID)

11:00am Division III – Tier A Final

Brit Lions vs Capilano(A) RFC

12:40pm Division III – Tier B Final

Capilano(B) RFC vs Abbotsford RFC

2:20pm Okanagan Spring Brewery Men’s League 2 Final

Surrey Beavers Athletic Association vs Abbotsford RFC

4:00pm Okanagan Spring Brewery Men’s League 1 Final

Vancouver Rowing Club vs Abbotsford RFC