Erich Eichhorn (ISN) – The University of Victoria Men’s Rugby 7’s Rugby “A” Pool team claimed their third consecutive national university title with a 17-12 win over UBC Saturday night to close out the National University Sevens Championship in dramatic fashion.
UVic Vikes hoist the 2015 National University 7’s championship cup after defeating UBC 17-12 at Westhills – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
The National tournament, presented by Rugby Canada, is put on the to give the best teams from across Canada the opportunity to showcase their bests talent and provide a platform for players to hopefully be noted by Canada’s national rugby performance staff, opening up selection opportunities to the Canadian squad for those chosen.
Last year, the Vikes defeated the same UBC team 24-19 to lift the championship cup, making three wins in the last four years. The 2015 championship gives the team the coveted 3-peat victory. This year’s win was especially sweet against a UBC team that recently won their division at Las Vegas Invitational Rugby Championships last month. For some graduating Vikes players the win was made even sweeter.
The Vikes pose with cup with staff and friends after the stunning victory over UBC – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
In getting to the final test, the “A” Pool Vikes went undefeated through the 2-day tournament, shutting out their opponents and outscoring them by a lopsided 227-0 score.
UBC appeared to be on form from the opening kick off, taking advantage of some weak tackling from the UVic side. UBC’s Jordan Best, the tournament’s top point scorer, would score the first try of the game at the mid way point of the ten minute opening half to go up 7-0 after Doug Fraser was yellow carded while defending at about the 5 meter line. Fraser, one of the Vikes’ resident speedsters would make up for his sin a few minutes later, finding his pace after taking a pass on the wing to beat UBC to the try line. An errant conversion kick would mark the score at 7-5 for UBC. UVic’s James Pitblado, the tournament’s day one leading point scorer, would be sidelined late in the first half with an ankle injury after a UBC foot tackle that would leave him looking for help to the sidelines. The half would end with UBC pinning the home team inside their own five-metre zone.
UBC would get their way with UVic early in the game as yellow cards and injuries would plague the home team. Vikes Kayne Wyatt with the tackle- Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Vikes flyer Luke McCloskey would put his team ahead in the second half with 7:34 remaining on a run from midfield for the try and a 10-7 lead, but all that effort came with a cost for UVic as McCloskey, while running with the ball would injure his leg while pulling away from a UBC tackle. Albeit a successful, lame gallop to the end zone for the try, McCloskey would sit out the rest of the game beside injured teammate Pitblado, much to the concern of coach Doug Tate, watching key players fall to injury with time running down. It was almost certain that Tate would add winger Doug Fraser to the list of injured when Fraser, trying to shake a ball loose with a hard tackle, would be the victim of his own intent, dropping to the ground motionless for about fifteen seconds. A fortuitous whistle would give him time to find his bearings and stay on the game side of the sidelines.
Kayne Wyatt hold on tight to bring the T-Bird down – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
When asked post game about how Fraser was able to stay in the game, Vikes head coach Doug Tate would comment,” that’s the way he plays right? He’s a physical type of player.”
Vikes Joe Erlich is prevented from the tackle as a UBC player uses a well placed arm to hold him off. – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Both teams would spar back and forth until UBC, looking for the knock out punch, would score with only 3 minutes running time remaining on the clock to take the lead back 12-10. Ball possession key for the reigning champions, the Vikes would seemingly struggle to make any large real estate gains, as time became their enemy.
Fighting from mid field, and UBC doing everything right to run down the clock, UVic’s Doug Fraser would find the ball in his hands one more time.
Vikes Doug Fraser save the best for last, scoring the winning try with just seconds remaning to gibe his team the win – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Without any signs of ill effects from the earlier hit, he would sprint the wing in front of a stand of screaming Vikes fans while carrying to two would-be UBC tacklers across the try line to put the ball down as time expired to lift his team to victory and a 3rd consecutive win for UVic Vikes 7’s squad.
When asked post game about his teams gut check win, Fraser would comment, “ the boys dug deep, we got two yellow cards, and guys were getting hurt left, right and centre, it was a testament to our fitness. I’m proud of our guys