Bayside ‘improving’ as schedule set to resume

South Surrey men's rugby team will play first game of spring Div. 1 schedule in early February.

There were growing pains early, as young players adjusted to a new system, but the Bayside Sharks’ men’s rugby team improved enough as the season wore on to give their first-year coach hope for the spring.

The Sharks, who were relegated from the premier division last spring, finished their Div. 1 fall schedule with a 6-3 mark – with wins or near-wins over some of the more veteran-laden sides in the division.

Their 6-3 record put them fourth in the 10-team league, behind only the UBC Thunderbirds, Seattle and Richmond.

“We played very strong the last four, five games, I thought,” said Angel Cividanes, who is in his first year with Bayside after joining the club from the Vancouver-based Meralomas.

“We almost beat Seattle (in October), too. I’m very proud of the guys and how they played.”

After a winter break that began in early December, the Div. 1 schedule will resume for the second half of the season in the first week of February. Bayside will get a jump on their competition, however, by heading to Portland at the end of this month for an exhibition game against a local team.

Cividanes said the biggest improvement he saw in his club during the fall session was improved defence. As an outside observer of the club during his time elsewhere, he noted Bayside’s men’s team have always been able to score points, but often at the expense of a strong commitment to defence. Remedying that imbalance was one of his major goals this season, he said.

“Bayside, historically, has always been an attacking side with very skilled players, but defensively, they were giving away tries,” Cividanes explained.

“It’s something we worked on. And in our last three games, we were very strong. We didn’t give up any tries against Abbotsford or Surrey (in late November).”

Despite improvements this season, Cividanes knows the rebuilding process – with an aim to get Bayside back into the BC Premier Rugby League – will likely take longer than just one year. But, he said, it’s a process he’s willing to see through to the end.

“We have to be realistic, we have to be patient,” he said.

“We’d love to be right back (in premier) next year, but we want to get there and stay there.

“We have some really good under-19 players coming up, so we’ll take this season, and maybe next, and just try to improve at all levels.”

Bayside’s first league game of the spring is Feb. 8 at UBC’s Wolfsen Fields, when the Sharks take on the Thunderbirds.

Their first home game is Feb. 15 when they host UBC-Okanagan at South Surrey Athletic Park.