Mariners seek Fraser Valley rugby ‘four-peat’
The Earl Marriott Mariners senior boys rugby team will hit the pitch Thursday in Abbotsford, seeking a fourth consecutive Fraser Valley rugby title.
And they’ll be doing so against a familiar foe – the Robert Bateman Timberwolves.
The Mariners and T-Wolves, who will square off at 3:45 p.m. at Yale Secondary, have played twice this year, with each team winning once. They’ve also squared off in Fraser Valley finals before, in 2009, when the Mariners won 38-10 to begin their run of three straight banners.
“We’re looking for the four-peat, for sure,” said EMS coach Adam Roberts, whose team is ranked No. 5 in B.C., while Robert Bateman is No. 6.
“There’s definitely a bit of rivalry here, so it should be a really fun game.”
Both teams have already qualified for provincial championships, as have the Semiahmoo Totems, who also play Thursday against Yale in the Fraser Valley’s third/fourth-place game.
Adding to Mariners-Timberwolves’ rivalry, Roberts said, is that many of the players on both sides know each other through club and provincial rugby teams.
“Sometimes, it can maybe be easy to look past a game like this (because of already qualifying for provincials), but these guys all have buddies on the other side, so I think they’ll really want to beat them,” Roberts said. “I don’t think motivation will be much of a problem.”
Though they carry a top-five ranking into Thursday’s contest, Roberts admits its been a bit of an “up and down” season for his side. Aside from an exhibition contest against Yale, the Mariners haven’t played since a lopsided win over Semiahmoo in the Sandcastle Cup two weeks ago.
If, as Roberts hopes, the Mariners are to use the Valley final “as a springboard” to get on a roll heading into B.C. champonships, they’ll need to be sharper mentally, the coach said.
“We’re a team that likes to run and gun. We’re very athletic, and the guys like to play that way, but against Bateman, we’re going to have to play good, positional rugby,” he explained. “We have to realize we can’t score every try by making a run from our own 22 (yard line).
“And that’s tough sometimes, because our guys have a ton of talent, a ton of moxie.”