Castaway Wanderers Earn Premier Women’s Title
Saturday was a spectacular day for Fifteens Club Rugby, as large crowds descended on MacDonald Park in Victoria and Klahanie Park in West Vancouver for the 2016 BC Rugby Club Finals.
In total, nine divisional championships were held, including the Castaway Wanderers picking up their first-ever Gordon Harris Memorial Trophy as Premier Women’s Division Champions, while the UBC Thunderbirds claimed their second consecutive Rounsefell Cup. The T-Birds win capped off a perfect season in the Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League and preceding Qualifying Round, finishing the campaign with a perfect 20-0 record.
BC Rugby would like to congratulate all of the 2016 Club Rugby XVs champions:
Women – Premier Division: Castaway Wanderers
Women – Division 1: Abbotsford RFC
Women – Division 2: Seattle Saracens
Men – Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League: UBC Thunderbirds
Men – Library Square Cup: Capilano RFC
Men – Division 1: Abbotsford RFC
Men – Division 2: Meraloma RC
Men – Division 3A: Kelowna RFC
Men – Division 3B: Meraloma RC
Women – Premier Division
Castaway Wanderers 31-15 Westshore RFC
Westshore RFC came into the game as favorites, having defeated Castaway Wanderers in both regular season encounters.
Westshore struck early with a try from the driving maul, but Castaway Wanderers reversed the momentum of the game on the strength of an incredible display from fullback Julianne Zussman. The Canadian international cut a swathe through the Westhore defense to set up an equalizing try, before adding a pair of tries herself in the second half.
The win marked a storybook ending in the BC Rugby Women’s Premier Division for Castaway Wanderers, who had re-launched a women’s program in the summer of 2015 after a multiple year hiatus.
Women – Division 1
Abbotsford RFC 48-24 United RC
Abbotsford charged out ahead in the early going, building up a half-time lead of 19-5, including tries from Dani Bomba, Meghan Wellis and Mackenzie Carson. Abbotsford stretched that lead to over 40 points in the second half, and while United showed great determination to pull back into the game with three unanswered tries, they simply ran out of time to mount the improbable comeback.
With the win, Abbotsford hoisted the Karen Moore Cup for the first time since 2011.
Women – Division 2
Ridge Meadows Bruins 24-38 Seattle Saracens
All appeared to be going in Seattle’s favor in the early going, with slicing runs from Sara Nester leading to points, but Ridge Meadows fought back with pace on the outside courtesy of Rachel Spinelli. With under five minutes to play, Seattle broke a 24-24 deadlock when Averi Kitsch quickly scooped up a ball at the breakdown, sniped around the edge of the ruck and raced in under the posts for the game winning try.
Men – Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League, Rounsefell Cup Final
UBC Thunderbirds 27-12 Burnaby Lake RC
The defending champions started on the front foot, with UBC’s Brock Staller helping to give his team an early 10-0 lead. His brazen run down the left wing and tidy offload to Jorden Sandover-Best set up the game’s opening try in exciting fashion. Burnaby Lake had ample opportunities to narrow the gap, but three missed penalties left them adrift as half-time approached.
Ryan Ackerman had a very impressive game in the forwards for Burnaby Lake, and he made his presence felt with a classic front-row player try from one meter out, as UBC scrambled to defend with fourteen players on account of a yellow card. The Lakers went into the dressing room trailing by only 8 points, and were surely mindful of the importance of the next score.
Staller added a pair of penalty kicks for UBC early in the second frame, but it was an incredibly deft step from fly-half Theo Sauder and a perfectly timed pass to Nate Rees that set up the game’s most decisive moment, as UBC widened the lead to 24-5.
Burnaby, despite a push-over try in response, were unable to stage any kind of late game heroics, and the final whistle sounded on UBC’s perfect season, with the Thunderbirds retaining the Rounsefell Cup for another year thanks to the 27-12 win.
“To go from winning one last year to improving and going 20-0 this year is remarkable,” said Sandover-Best.
“It’s unbelievable,” said UBC fullback Andrew Coe. “The amount of work the boys have put in that have amounted to this is amazing. We knew that Burnaby were a big, strong team and that we’d have to make a lot of tackles. We have been prepping for that, that’s what we came out and did, and we came out with the win.”
Captain Charlie Thorpe led the way in the tackle line, doing the spade work in the trenches to clean rucks and turn over possession. He, and several teammates including Staller and Alex Mascott, are graduating from the Thunderbirds program, with National team careers potentially calling following this summer’s Canadian Rugby Championship. Re-loading on they fly, however, seems like strong possibility for UBC, as a fresh crop of emerging talent is reason to believe that the undefeated streak can continue well into the 2016-17 season.
Men – Library Square Cup
Capilano 24-17 James Bay
The Library Square Cup, which is contested by the Premier Division’s additional roster players, is always an intriguing mix of young athletes on the rise and savvy veterans whose drive to compete positions them in the role of valuable mentors and on-field leaders.
Capilano RFC wrapped up an undefeated 10-0 Library Square Cup campaign on Saturday, with a 24-17 victory over James Bay Athletic Association. The Final marked the second time this season the Caps have edged the Bays by seven points.
Ryan Scott opened Capilano’s account with a try from the back of a driving maul, while James Bay responded through Brandon Sidhu Scherer, who brilliantly charged down a clearance kick and won the race the ball.
Neither team were immediately able to gain a strong upper hand, with the score favouring Capilano 14-12 at the intermission. Caps were able to notch the decisive score, however, after a powerful run by Mackenzie Mills left only two hard yards to be covered by Will Newbigin, which in the end were gained with a trio of defenders in tow.
The win marks the first time that Capilano have won the Library Square Cup.
Men – Division 1
bbbotsford 38-31 Surrey Beavers (OT)
The Okanagan Spring Brewery League regular season began in November with a dominant 53-22 win for Abbotsford over Surrey, which set the stage for a 12-0 record on the campaign. Few outside the Beaver Lodge would have expected to get a rematch against Abbotsford in the Cup Final, let alone to find themselves leading in the early going, but it was a dream start for Surrey, who worked the ball 80 meters up field over the course of five phases to score the opening try.
Abbotsford’s #8 man, Jake Thiel, who recently returned from tour with Canada’s U18 side, helped to level the score after charging down an up-and-under attempt and legging out a 50 metre try.
From that moment on, the intensity picked up, with both teams’ large cheering contingents trading verbal barbs in the grandstand and building towards a fevered atmosphere in the second half. With under fiteen minutes to play, and Abbotsford leading by nine points, Surrey closed the gap to just two with a short range try under the posts. An Abbotsford penalty then stretched their lead back to five, but Surrey once again charged down field to claim a crucial score-levelling try, again from short range.
A potential game-winning conversion sailed wide, which sent the game to overtime square at 26-26.
Early in the extra period, Abbotsford scrum half Scott Alexander found a streaking Kurtis Appledoorn deep inside the opposition 22 and hit him with a perfect pass to break both the tackle line and the deadlock on the scoreboard. The teams exchanged tries in the remaining minutes of the overtime session, but in the end Abbotsford held on to close the books on a perfect season, one which they have dedicated to John Cannon, their coach, teammate and friend, who passed away in March.
Men – Division 2
Meraloma 40-15 Abbotsford
With their only two losses on the season coming at the hands of Abbotsford RFC, the men from Connaught Park reversed the trend by sweeping aside the competition’s top ranked side.
It was the Meraloma’s back line who proved to be the difference, with Calum Baynham, Stef Evans, Dominic Boyd and Evan Loyd all scoring tries. Lloyd was also successful on all five of his conversion attempts.
Men – Division 3A
Kelowna 40-22 Westshore
For the second year in a row, Kelowna met Westshore in the Final, and once again Kelowna were able to come away with the championship.
Kelowna picked up their first try 10 minutes in, and built in confidence as the match progressed. A couple of Westshore tries made it more compelling, but the conclusion of a perfect campaign for Kelowna seemed inevitable. Their 10-0 Spring season followed on a 7-1 Fall season result that also included top honours in the competition.
As 3A winners, Kelowna earn a berth into the Saratoga Cup tournament, which will be played in BC interior this September.
Men – Division 3B
Meraloma 31-20 Abbotsford
Meraloma earned the brace against Abbotsford courtesy of a scrappy performance from their third division side. Meraloma had upset Burnaby Lake last week to earn a trip to the final, and they made the most of their opportunity.
Meraloma fullback Jake Hirst proved that his powerful side-step – one which previously earned him the starting fly-half role for the BC Bears in 2010 against England Counties – was still in fine form. This was a tight contest, with Meraloma eventually pulling in front by a 31-15 score. A late Abbotsford try was not enough to close the gap, as the final whistle sounded and the Lomas celebrated their return to the top of the 3B division.