Championship day for B.C.’s rugby boys
B.C.'s rugby coaches divvied up local U-14 players into White and Gold for the last time at Oakville, Ontario on August 3, with B.C. White to play in a 7s tournament, and B.C. Gold for the final 15s match-up.
B.C. was undoubtedly the more knowledgeable and fit group on the field in all pool play. It certainly helped that a number of our kids had taken part in the B.C. Summer Games and training in preparation for them.
With 7s fresh in their minds, the boys played a wide open offensive game plan and succeeded brilliantly. In short order B.C. was using the ball to take care of most of the work, while a few Ontario "studs" would run far too long with ball, resulting in tired and vulnerable Ontario teams.
For those not familiar with 7s, it can be quite an offensive game and our final scores were indicative of B.C.'s strategy.
Pool Play Results:
Game 1: B.C. 40 - Ont. 0
Game 2: B.C. 29 - Ont. 5
Game 3: B.C. 19 - Ont. 5
Game 4: B.C. 35 - Ont. 5
With B.C. going undefeated in pool play, the final, B.C. vs. B.C., allowed for a more "celebratory" game than anything else. The boys took to the field to enjoy a last opportunity to play some rugby at the amazing Appleby College grounds.
A first (at least on this tour) was hearing laughter from the pitch during game time, a direct result of unique "gamesmanship" from the first whistle on. This game also allowed for one player, unfortunately injured and unable to play contact during the tour, an opportunity to don the B.C. Jersey and enter on a "touch only basis."
7s Final: B.C. Blue 26 - B.C. White 12
B.C. vs. Ontario 15s Final
So, after a long and exhausting few weeks (parents included), the game everyone has been waiting for was ready to go.
From the starting whistle (actually, even in observing their warm-up) it was clear Ontario had something to prove. After being a bit "man-handled" during the lead up games, the Ontario 1 squad came at B.C. hard and fast.
This pressure in addition to perhaps, some early nerves on B.C.'s part, left our group to defend for large portions of the first half. Now, as I say some nerves may have been present (on offensive possessions a number of unforced errors), the boys were stellar in their defense.
The first half was spent almost entirely in B.C. territory and our group was forced to make numerous defensive plays. There may have been a little bend in the Gold line, but it never broke. From this fan's point of view, this was the beginning of change in the game. With staunch defense providing a solid platform, it was observed the Ontario team was becoming frustrated in their lack of finish. Time and time again Ontario would gain valuable territory only to be held back or turning over the ball, in what was stellar counter pressure, particularly by the forwards.
There were a number of line-out steals and counter-ruck opportunities that allowed our guys a chance to relieve pressure; albeit momentarily.
As the whistle blew the first half dead, B.C. held Ontario to no scores and entered the half tied 0-0.
A common theme and comment from my observations this week has been B.C.'s superior fitness. This can be the difference in a win or loss, especially at the rep. level. This was no different during this tour.
While our squad undoubtedly burned up some valuable energy in defending, Ontario in kind also expended themselves in their offensive strikes against B.C. That, coupled with the frustration of not capitalizing in the first half, now provided B.C. with their opportunities in the game.
In all three second half B.C. scores, the opportunity was set up by good forward play. The pack took the ball hard and straight into contact, resulting in positive gains in territory and Ontario having no option but to collapse their defense in order to contain B.C.'s advance.
With good ball from the breakdowns, the backs stepped up and with crisp passing, good hands and a few sidesteps, creating overlaps to the outside. As is quite often the case, first scores can be a huge advantage. From that first tally on, B.C. seemed to create more energy and stamina and Ontario just couldn't match it for the remainder of the game.
As the final whistle blew, B.C. Gold stormed the field, followed in kind by the rest of the B.C. kids to celebrate their U14 Interprovincial Championship!
Final Score: BC 15 - Ont. 0
A special thank you to the coaching/managing staff in keeping 40 kids together and focused "on the prize" and to travelling parents for making the trip so much fun. Finally, thanks again to all the Mainland billet families for their incredible hospitality, their generous care of our boys and most importantly, a ride to the ferry!
Signing off, a jet-lagged, but happy U14 B.C. fan, Kevin Hall.