For the first time in school history, the Elgin Park Orcas have a provincial rugby banner to hang in the school gym.
On Saturday at Abbotsford’s Rotary Stadium, the South Surrey school’s senior boys rugby team claimed a AAA Tier 2 B.C. Championship after a 10-3 win over North Vancouver’s Argyle Pipers.
The provincial title is just the fifth – in any sport – in the school’s 23-year history, adding to a list that includes two senior girls and two senior boys volleyball titles.
The title game was played in miserable weather, as torrential rain limited both teams’ offensive game plans, but stingy defence, especially in the second half, led the Orcas to victory.
“We were up 10-3 – basically just one converted try – for most of the second half, and it was a really back-and-forth affair, but we managed to hold them off long enough,” said Elgin Park coach Mike Jamieson, who was a member of the school’s two provincial-champion boys volleyball squads during his school days.
Prior to the win over Argyle, Elgin Park defeated W.J. Mouat Secondary 19-12 in semifinals, and in their first game Wednesday, edged Kitsilano by two tries.
Defence was key during the Orcas’ run – the team allowed just three tries in the three games – and Jamieson admitted his squad’s performance on that side of the ball came as something of a surprise to him, considering recent performances.
“We played Mouat a week before provincials and lost by 30, and gave up six tries, and a week before that, we gave up six tries against (Cloverdale’s) Lord Tweedsmuir,” Jamieson explained. “So this was not something I expected… but the kids got here and fought tooth and nail and never gave up.
“It sure makes winning games easier when you aren’t letting the other team put up a bunch of points.”
The win over Mouat, he added, was especially encouraging.
“Our commitment and determination was tenfold better than it was the week before, and it sure was nice to get that one after losing so badly earlier. There were a lot of happy faces on our side after that one.”
Making Elgin Park’s victory all the more impressive was the number of young players who were forced into major roles during the provincial tournament.
Six Grade 10 players saw significant playing time – and Angus Grieve and Jamie Gazzola each scored tries against Kitsilano.
“Throughout the year, we had eight players quit due to other commitments and things like that, and then we lost two more players due to injury last week, so we were really down to bare bones (by Saturday),” Jamieson explained.
“I had one of my senior players say to me that he couldn’t believe how hard it was to score tries at provincials (with so many starters out).
“But you’ve just got to grind, grind, grind, grind, and all credit goes to these guys – they just kept fighting, and really just refused to lose.”
The experience gained by the underclassmen will no doubt benefit them next season, and the one after that, said Jamieson, who has been tasked with rebuilding the team’s rugby program over the last few years.
“It’s a huge step for us as a program, and really bodes well for the future,” he said.
Jessen Gibbs, in Grade 12, was Elgin Park’s all-star representative on the Commissioner’s XV list.
Senior boys, quad-A
The Earl Marriott Mariners received something of a rude awakening at the first-ever B.C. quad-A senior boys rugby championships.
The Peninsula squad – which qualified for the four-team bracket by virtue of winning the triple-A Fraser Valley zone last week – lost its first-round game 102-10 to the eventual champion Shawnigan Lake Stags.
Shawnigan’s dominance at the senior boys level – they, along with St. Georges’, have won every B.C. triple-A title since 2002 – was the chief reason for the creation of the quad-A tier, separating them from the rest of the herd.
And despite the Mariners being among the province’s best teams, they were no match for Shawnigan last Wednesday in Abbotsford.
Shawnigan Lake defeated St. George’s 12-8 in the final, while Oak Bay narrowly defeated EMS in the bronze-medal game, 9-6 in overtime.
Marriott was named the most sportsmanlike team.
Prior to the start of the tournament, EMS coach Adam Roberts said regardless of the outcome, his team was proud to have qualified for the “prestigious” quad-A bracket, as opposed to staying in triple-A where they would have been among the top title contenders.
• The triple-A Tier 1 rugby provincials were won by Abbotsford’s Yale Lions, who won 17-0 over the Carson Graham Eagles.
Lord Tweedsmuir finished fourth overall, losing the bronze-medal game to the Handsworth Royals, 19-5.
The Semiahmoo Totems senior girls narrowly missed a podium spot at BC Senior Girls AAA Rugby Championships in Kamloops last weekend.
The Totems lost the bronze-medal contest to the Yale Lions, and finished fourth overall.
Semiahmoo began the tournament Thursday with a 20-5 win over Cowichan, but lost their second game in double overtime, 13-8 to the eventual champion Carson Graham Eagles, knocking them from title contention and into the third-place showdown with Yale.
“It was a great weekend, but also bitterly disappointing because we thought we deserved better,” said Semi coach David Kaye.
Four times in the game, Semiahmoo scored tries, but all were discounted by the official, Kaye said, either because the referee could not see the ball across the line, or due to penalties.
“Four tries, and all we needed was one of them,” he said. “But woulda, coulda, shoulda – it just didn’t go our way.”
Earl Marriott, meanwhile, finished sixth in the eight-team AAA bracket, losing on Day 1 to G.P. Vanier, 34-10, before rebounding in their second game to defeat Salmon Arm 29-10.
In the final game, for fifth place, EMS lost to Cowichan.