UBC's Fraser Hurst touches down for the BC Bears in the first half against the British RAF Rugby Union Team. (Photo Courtesy of BC Rugby)

The BC Bears came out on top in a closely contested match against the British RAF Rugby Union Team at UBC, winning 23-19.  The victory means that the visitors finish their centenary tour of Canada with a 2-1 record.  The Bears will be happy to have walked away with a win, but know that work needs to be done ahead of this summer’s Canadian Rugby Championship campaign.

The hosts started brightly, opening up a 17-3 lead over the British RAF thanks to tries from Fraser Hurst, Jared Douglas and Captain Ollie Nott.  The boot of James Pitblado helped to keep the scoreboard ticking over and the first 40mins went relatively smoothly for the Bears.  Not much more you could ask for from a team that had only come together in the week running up to the match.  The British RAF boys weren’t to be counted out though, dual wielding the kicking skills of Sgt. Andy Byrne and Cpl. Luke Riddell.  A 17-9 score at half time was a fair reflection of the action.

Come the second half, the game started to change.  A combination of heat, fatigue and ill-discipline saw errors creping in on both sides.  The British RAF were right back in contention after Flt Lt. Rory Wood intercepted a short lineout inside the Bears half, romping over the line to score. That brought the score to 20-19 in the Bears favour and the tension was palpable from both players and the grandstand.

The attacks and counter attacks continued from both sides and BC managed to edge a further penalty kick to give themselves a little breathing room.  But the grit and determination of the British RAF should never be doubted and as the minutes counted down, their resolve grew.  Two yellow cards in the final minutes reduced the Bears to 13 men and an onslaught commenced on their 5m line, the RAF boys hurling themselves at a wall of yellow, white and blue.  Somehow the Bears managed to resist wave after wave of attack, the crowd cheering and gasping with each play.

The final whistle will have come as a relief to the Bears’ players.  The visitors were understandably frustrated, having been right on the cusp of getting the win for the last 5 minutes.  Ultimately though, the two sides delivered a highly entertaining game and a great spectacle.  The British RAF were wonderful guests both on and off the field and hopefully it won’t be long before they are touring through Canada again.

Bc Rugby would like to thank a number of groups for making the day such a success, including the match officials, the Seaforth Highlanders Pipes and Drums for creating such a rousing atmosphere, and the volunteers who helped the day go so smoothly.  Finally, a hearfelt thanks to the British RAF Rugby Union Team players and staff for being part of such an enjoyable day.


BC Bears: 23
Tries: Fraser Hurst, Jared Douglas, Ollie Nott
Conversions: James Pitblado
Penalties: James Pitblado (2)

British RAF: 19
Tries: Flt. Lt. Rory Wood
Conversions: Cpl. Luke Riddell
Penalties: Sgt. Andy Byrne (2), Cpl. Luke Riddell (2)

BC Bears Team

  1. Nik Hildebrand – Nanaimo, BC (Burnaby, BC)
  2. Steven NG – James Bay RFC (Ottawa, ON)
  3. Neil Courtney – Capilano RFC (North Vancouver, BC)
  4. Craig McLaughlin – Burnaby RFC (Burnaby, BC)
  5. Callum Botchar – UBC Thunderbirds (Vancouver, BC)
  6. Connor McCann – Meralomas RFC (Belleville, ON)
  7. Jason Hignell – Abbotsford RFC (Abbotsford)
  8. Ollie Nott – UVic Vikes (Victoria, BC)
  9. James Pitblado – UVic Vikes (Vancouver, BC)
  10. David Dinbandhu – Bay Side RFC (Delta, BC)
  11. Jared Douglas – Abbotsford RFC (Abbotsford)
  12. Mike Nieuwenhuysen – James Bay RFC (Brampton, ON)
  13. Johnny Franklin – Capilano RFC (Vancouver, BC)
  14. Jean Koorsyen – United RFC (Maple Ridge, BC)
  15. Fraser Hurst – UBC Thunderbirds (Vancouver, BC)

John Braddock – Castaway Wanderers RFC (Victoria, BC)
Blake van Heyningen – James Bay RFC (Victoria, BC)
Bryce Worden – Burnaby RFC (Burnaby, BC)
Johnny Franklin – Capilano (Vancouver, BC)
Reid Watkins – Burnaby RFC/ Calgary Hornets (Okotoks, AB)
Reid Tucker – Capilano RFC (North Vancouver, BC)
Shea Wakefield – James Bay RFC (Victoria, BC)
Cole Mosychuck – Burnaby RFC (Kelowna, BC)
Siaki Vikilani – Burnaby RFC (Burnaby, BC)
Tatusi Vikilani – Burnaby RFC (Burnaby, BC)
Wes Lee – Meralomas RFC (Vancouver, BC)
Nathan Stewart – Castaway Wanderers RFC (Victoria, BC)
Mitch Sora – James Bay RFC (Pickering, Ont)
Clayton Meeres – James Bay RFC (Chilliwack)
Matthew Chan – Burnaby RFC (Vancouver, BC)
Justin Logan – Castaway Wanderers RFC (Victoria, BC)
Foster Dewitt – Westshore RFC (Courtney, BC)

Coach – Dean Murten (Vancouver, BC)
Coach – Jebb Sinclair (Vancouver, BC)
Coach – Scott Manning (Victoria, BC)
Coach – Mario Domingues (Vancouver, BC)
Coach – Angel Cividanes (White Rock, BC)
Medical Staff – Dr Rebecca Skillen (Ottawa, ON)
Medical Staff – Eric Marriotte (Vancouver, BC)

British RAF Rugby Union Team

  1. SAC Matt Harris
  2. SAC Steve Kilner
  3. CPL Dave Manning (VC)
  4. FLT LT Jack Shepherd
  5. SAC Jake Ball
  6. SAC Loz Few
  7. SAC Kieran Forbes
  8. L/CPL Sam Breeze
  9. FLT LT Rory Wood
  10. SGT Andy Byrne
  11. CPL Toby Mann (C)
  12. CPL Luke Riddell
  13. SAC Sean Webber
  14. CPL Jack Lowe
  15. SAC Ryan Crowley
  16. SAC Aaron Matthews
  17. SAC Luke Shpylka
  18. SAC Zach Clarke
  19. SAC Alex Jones
  20. SAC Joe Harry
  21. CT Al Blewitt
  22. SAC Josh Williams
  23. SAC Liam Eaton
  24. SAC Mike Robinson
  25. SAC Nick Arnell
  26. CPL Tom Eeles

Tour Manager – Sqn Ldr Mark Hope
Forwards Coach – Sgt Justin Coleman
Backs Coach –  Sgt Tom Gardner
Strength & Conditioning Coach –  Sgt Ross Tarnowski
Kit Manager –  WO Jamie Hillman
Physiotherapist –  Flt Lt Jo Magill