Saturday at South Surrey Athletic Park, Peninsula rugby player Adam Timler put on quite a show for the 200-plus fans who came out to watch the B.C. Bulldogs battle a Rugby League side from the Western USA.
Timler, a member of the Bayside Sharks, scored two tries – “Both spectacular tries,” noted Bulldogs coach Andy Blackburn, himself a South Surrey native – to help lead the ‘Dogs to a 54-12 win over their U.S. opponents.
The game was the first leg of a two-game exhibition series between the two sides, with the second match set for Oct. 13 in Newport Beach, Calif.
Prior to Saturday’s main event, the Bulldogs’ junior team – which Blackburn said was essentially made up of Bayside’s U15 boys team – played an intra-squad game.
Rugby League – which differs from both traditional 15-a-side and sevens rugby – is gaining steam in B.C.
The Bulldogs are in their second year of play, and a local league features teams from Surrey, Richmond, Kelowna, Vancouver and, next year, Seattle.
Rugby League is similar to football in that each team has six attempts to move down the field and score. After the sixth attempt, possession changes hands.
There are 13 players per side, and there are fewer kicks – penalty kicks are worth two points, rather than the usual three, and drop-goals are just one point – which makes it a very “try-heavy” game.
“There’s definitely more of an emphasis of scoring tries,” said Blackburn, also an assistant coach with the Canadian Wolverines’ rugby league program.
“It’s a lot faster, and the ball spends more time in the field of play,” he added.
The game is gaining steam on the Peninsula, Blackburn added, and fans of the sport will have new opportunities this fall to check out the action. On Oct. 27, the Canadian Wolverines’ development side will play at South Surrey Athletic Park against a visiting all-star team from Australia.
As well, Blackburn said South Surrey Athletic Park is now the official home of the Bulldogs, so future international contests will also be held there.
“It should attract some good teams, and should be good for the sport in the area,” he said.