A week after a disappointing end to their rugby playoffs, ten members of Earl Marriott Secondary’s senior boys rugby team finished the season on a high, capturing a championship banner at rugby sevens provincials.
The Mariners – who, in 15-a-side rugby provincials last week finished fourth in the quad-A division, losing the bronze-medal game to Oak Bay in overtime – won the sevens tournament after a 26-10 victory of the St. George’s Saints in the title game.
The game was played at St. George’s School, but EMS coach Adam Roberts said the lack of home-field advantage didn’t affect his squad.
“It’s a tough place to play but we had our fans out, too. It was a great weekend – a legit (provincial) title for the school,” he said.
“We took on the best and beat the best. The guys on this team could play in a world-level tournament and do well – that’s how good they are. They’re phenomenal.”
Marriott played five 14-minute games at provincials, and the Mariners had to run a gauntlet of rugby powerhouses en route to the provincial championship.
Aside from knocking off St. George’s in the title game, the Mariners beat Victoria’s St. Michael’s University School – winners of the AA 15-a-side provincial title earlier this month – and the triple-A champion Yale Lions, as well as Lord Tweedsmuir and Victoria’s Brentwood College.
“It was very sweet to get this one, considering how tough it was to lose that overtime game to Oak Bay (in last week’s provincials),” Roberts said.
“It’s a fantastic cap to the season for these guys.”
While the longtime coach did single out a few players – namely Michael Smith, Tyson Smith and Rhys McMartin, whom Roberts referred to as “out-of-this-world studs” – he was also quick to heap praise upon his entire team.
“You need all your guys to play well – you need the whole team. There’s only seven guys out there at a time, so there’s nowhere to hide,” he said.
When speaking of Tyson Smith, Roberts pointed to a tackle he made in the final game that kept St. George’s from tying the game at a critical point.
“We were up 12-5 and he just absolutely stuck a guy near the goal line. It was a game-saving tackle. They could’ve tied it right there, and then who knows.
“It was kind of a turning point.”