by Mark Janzen, Rugby Canada
(ISN) – LANGFORD, British Columbia – In a rematch of last year’s championship bout, the University of Victoria Vikes men’s 7s side once again got the best of the UBC Thunderbirds as the Vikes captured the National University 7s Rugby Championship with a thrilling 17-12 win Saturday at Westhills Stadium.
With the score on even terms at 12-12 in the late stages of the second half, Victoria’s Doug Fraserplayed the role of championship hero as he scored the game-winning try as the clock hit zeroes.
The victory gives the Vikes their second straight national title, having knocked off UBC by a 24-19 count in last year’s championship tilt.
After UBC’s Charlie Thorpe tied the contest in the latter part of the second half, the Vikes took possession and systematically drove down the pitch to set up what would be the winning try.
Canadian national team regular Lucas Hammond sliced through the middle of the park, drawing defenders, and dumped it off to Fraser, who, after momentarily juggling the ball, wheeled around the outside to put the Vikes into victory lane.
Fraser’s winning try, which was his second of the match, was a fitting bit of redemption as he was shown a yellow card early in the first half and was forced to watch UBC score its first try of the game from the sin bin.
The Thunderbirds got on the board first when Jorden Best was Johnny on the Spot early in the first half, capitalizing on the extra man to tally the opening try.
After a staunch defensive effort from the Vikes on their own line, Victoria earned a five-metre scrum. However, after the Vikes snatched the ball back, Best jumped on the loose ball to score the game’s first points and put UBC up 7-0.
The Thunderbirds try was the first points given up by Victoria in the tournament.
The Vikes responded with just over three minutes left in the first half on a valiant effort from Luke McCloskey that saw him race down the right wing and, despite tweaking his hamstring during the run, power through to the line for a Victoria try.
After trailing 7-5 at the break, the Vikes took its first lead of the match early in the second half as it was the Hammond and Fraser combination striking off the left wing. A great run by Hammond put Victoria inside UBC territory and then a perfect offload sent Fraser in alone to give the Vikes a 12-7 edge.
However, a second yellow card Victoria – this time for an intentional knock-on – put Victoria down a man and the Thunderbirds took advantage.
Running from left to right, Thorpe cut back to his left and, with Victoria’s Fraser down on the pitch and seemingly injured, the Thunderbird navigated the five-man Vikes defence to even the score line.
That set up the Fraser’s late-game dramatics that sent the Vikes into the winner’s circle.
Victoria came into the championship tilt having won five games in a row and having outscored its opposition 227-0. In the semifinals, the Vikes knocked off Queen’s 34-0.
UBC also had an impressive run leading up to the Cup Final as the Thunderbirds went 4-0 through the round robin and quarter-finals, out-scoring their opposition 171-0. The Thunderbirds earned their spot in the final with a 24-21 semifinal win over the UVic Norsemen.
Shield Winners – Royal Military College
Bowl Winners – University of Calgary
Plate Winners – McMaster Marauders
Cup Winners – UVIC Vikes
Men’s Dream Team:
Dustin Dobravsky (UVIC)
Theo Sauder (UBC)
Luke McCloskey (UVIC)
Nate Rees (UBC)
Jordan Sandover-Best (UBC)
Andrew Ferguson (McMaster)
Sam Jefferies (UBC)