D.W. Poppy Redhawks’ Wes Foss makes a move on a Charles Best Blue Devils tackler during junior boys playoff action last week (April 23) at D.W. Poppy Secondary. The Redhawks won 18-17 and have qualified for the Fraser Valleys.

Redhawks rugby on the rise

D.W. Poppy rugby program enjoying a resurgence

Everybody likes a winner.

And that is what is happening on the pitch with the D.W. Poppy Redhawks rugby program.

“It started two or three years ago when we had a really big junior group come through,” explained Kyle Barry, who coaches the Poppy senior team alongside Mike Munsie.

“They started playing and taking to the sport,” Barry explained about the Poppy core, who are now in Grade 12.

Of this year’s 26 players on the senior team — which is ranked sixth in the province among Double-A boys teams heading into the playoffs — 18 are in Grade 12.

“They had a very tough road last year, but they made it to provincials (last year),” Barry said about the senior team which wound up finishing 16th.

“But that raised a lot of eyebrows here from the our juniors and our juniors came out in droves.”

Poppy had about 30 players come out for the junior team this season and has also put together a solid season.

The Redhawks are 1-1 in the playoffs — they beat the Charles Best Blue Devils last week but lost to the Terry Fox Ravens on Monday — and faced the Langley Saints on April 30. Both Langley teams have qualified for the Fraser Valley championships and the game was to determine which team came fifth in the Upper Fraser Valley.

The junior team is coached by Carl Hunter and Bryan Gill.

“For a team that I would say three quarters of them have never played rugby before, to come in and have done this, that is absolutely spectacular,” Barry said.

The senior Redhawks were 4-2 during league play and they are expected to host a Fraser Valley semifinal game on May 8. Their opponent will be either Southridge, Abbotsford or Brookswood, depending on this week’s results.

A victory would guarantee a spot at the provincial championships at the end of the month.

The top three teams from the Fraser Valleys qualify while the fourth-place finisher will play a wildcard game against the fifth-place team from the Lower Mainland to see which team moves on.

And Barry says the team has their eyes on a return trip to provincials — and a finish in the top eight in B.C.

Barry said the returnees from last year got a taste of the provincials “and want it bad.”

“We can definitely adapt our game play to what our opposition brings to the table,” he said.

“We are strong on the forwards, strong on the backs.”

The senior squad is led by standouts Gino Paolella and Nick Vandergoes, who have both played on provincial teams in the past. And in June, Paolella has earned a spot on Canada’s 9’s team while Vandergoes has been named a reserve.

Barry also credited the play of Matthew Theodore, Kyle Sagert and scrum-half Brodie Muench as some of the team’s catalysts.

•••

The R.E. Mountain Eagles senior boys team finished the regular season at 3-3 and are listed as an honourable mention in the Double-A rankings.

The Eagles play the Rick Hansen Hurricanes on May 1 in a playoff game to see which team advances to the Fraser Valley semifinals.

The winner will play the G.W. Graham Grizzlies.

Just Posted

VIDEO: A damp May Day parade in Fort Langley

Despite poor weather, thousands attended 97th annual procession

Bradner hosts 100th annual May Day celebration

Parade and country fair take place in Abbotsford on Monday, May 20

United voice calls for more senior services in Aldergrove

‘The people here deserve more’ says founder of the local Seniors Resource Fair

Aldergrove’s water park opens to public at discounted rates

Though the pool remains closed, the Township has decided to charge a toonie for admission

Fraser Valley pup trained in Aldergrove co-stars in A Dog’s Journey

Film premiers this weekend, starting Friday in Canadian theatres

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of Victoria Day

How much do you know about the monarch whose day we celebrate each May?

Top women’s hockey player Natalie Spooner coming to B.C.

Natalie Spooner special guest at annual Grindstone charity weekend in Kelowna

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

UPDATE: Highway 1 reopened after multi-vehicle crash east of Chilliwack

Westbound lanes near Herrling Island were closed for hours amid busy holiday weekend traffic

Police watchdog investigating motorcycle crash in Kamloops

A Kamloops Mountie had stopped the driver for speeding, but they raced off from the 0fficer

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

Father and two youngsters fall down a steep, treacherous cliff while hiking Burke Mountain

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Most Read