We’ve provided readers of Varsity Letters with a complete write-through on Day 1 of the B.C. high school rugby championships.
Every tier ands every score is covered here, as well as tomorrow’s semifinal matchups and a review of the B.C. Junior semifinals players this afternoon.
ABBOTSFORD — The new-and-improved B.C. Secondary Schools Rugby Union provincial championships opened it’s four-day run Wednesday with more than a hint that the second year of a new format has upped the entertainment value.
Five different competition classifications, a jump straight into the quarterfinal round and the rise of non-traditional rugby schools to their highest levels ever added up to a pair of incredible matches in the opening draw in which No. 7 seeds gave No. 2 seeds more than their share of palpitations.
In Double A Tier 1 play, West Vancouver’s No. 2-seeded Collingwood Cavaliers needed a deluge of late offence to rally past Chilliwack’s bulldog-minded G.W. Graham Grizzlies 29-14.
If that score doesn’t seem close, consider that the Grizz were leading 14-12 with about 18 minutes remaining.
And in Triple A Tier 1 play, Abbotsford’s No. 2-seeded Yale Lions needed an 11th hour penalty kick to edge past Tsawwassen’s South Delta Sun Devils 13-12.
“Our tournament has gotten off to a great start and the new format we brought in last year has resulted in much closer games,” said BCSSRU commissioner Walter Van Halst. “We used to have those 1 vs. 16 games. Let’s not go there. Now, the likelihood is more realistic for us to have some drama and suspense.”
Collingwood coach Dave Speirs admitted his Cavs could have done with a little less of that drama.
“G.W. Graham gave us way more than we needed,” said Speirs, whose team rallied behind a pair of converted tries from Carter Proc and a key penalty kick to put the game out of reach late.
“We finally got our hands on the ball and got into our pattern,” he said. “That just sucked their forwards in with our guys running hard and then, we started to spin the ball wide. Our forwards starting to run hard is what finally opened some space.”
Cam Bruk, Jack Allen and Ethan Lucke also scored tries for the winners.
G.W. Graham, the Fraser Valley’s ever-growing sports power, looked ready to put its rugby program in the same conversation as its varsity football and basketball programs.
“I consider this fantastic because our guys represented our rugby program like we never have before,” said proud coach Dave Allan who watched Von Richardson and Dylan Campbell score tries in the loss.
“Today, we gave a No. 2 seed a great run and we played with tons of heart. We won little victories on the field and we kept it simple. We took advantage of our opportunities when we had the ball in our hands.”
The Cavs will now No. 3 Brentwood College, a 29-5 winner over West Van’s No. 6 Rockridge Ravens in a noon semifinal Thursday.
“Now that it’s straight into quarters, you expect games to be tougher,” said Speirs. “We knew Graham was going to be athletic. We knew if we gave them any space, they would take it. Hopefully having such a tough game will help us tomorrow.”
On the other side of the draw, No. 1 St. Michaels University School Blue Jags will clash with No. 4 Robert Bateman in. 4 p.m. semifinal. SMUS beat No. 8 Nanaimo District 55-19 while McMath topped No. 5 Robert Bateman. 24-20.
At Triple A Tier 1, Yale is hoping a tough early game will help them the rest of the way.
“South Delta is a very good team,” said Lions’ head coach Doug Primrose after his side emerged one-point victors. “They are massive and as a bit of an under-sized team, we had a tough time dealing with them.
“Luckily, in the end, we used some of our skill to come back when we got down with eight minutes to go.”
South Delta scored a try to take a 12-10 lead.
However Yale’s Jayden Ned kicked a penalty in the dying stages for the one-point win.
“It was a good gut-check win,” said Primrose.
Josh Radons and Keifer Bernier scored the Lions’ two tries.
Yale will meet the No 6-seeded underdog R.E. Mountain of Langley in a 12 noon semifinal Thursday after the Eagles came through with a 45-21 win over North Vancouver’s No. 3 Handsworth Royals.
On the other side of the draw, in a 4 pm semifinal clash, it will be the No. 1 Carson Graham Eagles of North Vancouver meeting Abby’s No. 4 W.J. Mouat Hawks.
Carson Graham beat No. 8 Belmont 55-0 while Mouat topped No. 5 Elgin Park of Surrey 43-12.
IN TIER 2 ACTION OPENING ROUND PLAY:
The Triple A Final Four is set.
In a noon Thursday tilt, PoCo’s No. 2 Terry Fox Ravens will battle No. 3 Argyle Pipers of North Vancouver.
The Ravens edged No. 7 West Vancouver 18-17 on Wednesday, while the Pipers beat Duncan’s No. 6-seeded Cowichan Thunderbirds 50-5.
In a 4 p.m. semifinal, it will be Victoria’s No. 1 Claremont Spartans facing the No. 5 Penticton Lakers.
Claremont topped Surrey’s No. 8 Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers 46-12 while Penticton beat Vancouver’s Kitsilano Blue Demons 50-26.
In Double A:
Ryan Rumsey scored a pair of tries while Ike Olson and Cole Hunter scored one apiece as Vernon’s Clarence Fulton Maroons topped North Van’s Sutherland Sabres 24-17.
“This was big comeback win for our kids,” Fulton head coach Mike Scheller, whose charges now advance to face No. 1-ranked Glenlyon-Norfolk of Victoria in a 4 p.m. Thursday semifinal.
Trailing 17-1s with five minutes remaining, Olson tied the score with a try and Rumsey won it with his second of the game with two minutes remaining.
“I was really impressed with our second half,” continued Scheller. “Our kids really stepped up and showed a lot of heart in the come0-back win.”
Lock Greg Geistlinger had his best game of the season and wing Quinn Williamson stepped up as Grade 9 in the second half.
GNS was a 30-19 winner over No. 8 seeded Sir Charles Tupper of Vancouver.
On the other side of the draw, Nelson’s No. 2-seeded LV Rogers Bombers will meet the No. 6 Seycove Seyhawks in a noon semifinal.
Seycove upset No. 3 Langley Saints 27-24 while the Bombers beat No. 7 D.W. Poppy of Langley 24-5.
The Shawnigan Lake Stags will face the hometown team in the B.C. junior varsity championship final slated for 5:30 p.m. in Rotary Stadium on Friday.
While the Stags topped North Van’s Carson Graham Eagles in one Wednesday semifinal, Abbotsford’s Robert Bateman Timberwolves edged Vancouver’s St. George’s Saints 20-19 as Sam Davenport booted a last-second penalty to provide the upset.
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