British Columbia's CRC team defeated Durham University 30-28 on Sunday at Langford's Centre of Excellence.
A gorgeous, warm, and cloudless day was the setting at the fabulous pitch of the Rugby Canada training post in Langford, British Columbia. The field saw the BC Senior Menís select team take on the British team from Durham University. This was a trial game for the BC team as they are in the initial stages of trying to recruit a few new players to the BC CRC team.
For the first few minutes of the game Durham could not get out of their half, and BC seemed to do well at pinning Durham within their own 40-metres. With BC playing well they finally crossed over Durhamís try line from a great offload pass at the 10-minute mark of the first half. BC missed their kick and made the opening score 5-0.
After the restart BC seemed to keep up their attack of the Durham defence. BC got on a role and started to begin their phase play. With their momentum on their side BC swung the ball out from a ruck on the left side of the pitch and touched the ball down behind the try line on the opposite side. BC missed their kick yet again, which made the score 10-0 BC after 17 minutes of play.
Both teams seemed to be finding themselves within the first part of the first half. Both teams made simple handling errors, had poor off-loads, and seemed out of place overall. But Durham University composed themselves and waited for their moment to strike. Their moment came at the 25-minute mark when Durham made a terrific kick for touch off a penalty, and headed for a lineout at BCís 5-metre line. Durham won the lineout and quickly dispensed the ball to their backs where their number 10 put a grubber through BCís defensive line and Durham touched the ball down. Durham made their kick making the score 10-7.
BC seemed to suffer from a lack of cohesion amongst their players and made simple handling errors throughout the first half; and they paid for it at the 35-minute mark. Durham pinned BC in their own end, and off a poorly executed pass on their own 2-metre line, a BC player fumbled the ball and Durham pounced on the loose ball that was just across the try line underneath the posts. Again Durham made their kick and for the first time in the game they were ahead with the score 14-10. It looked as though the heat was getting to the Canadian men as Durham kept pressuring BC.
After the two teams exchanged kicks for field possession the Durham team decided to play the ball, and it turned out to be the smart decision. After receiving a BC kick one of the Durham players ran the ball up field, found a hole, and sprinted in between the posts for another try. Durham would not miss the kick, and at the end of the first half Durham lead BC with the score 21-10.
BC would need to come back stronger and with more tenacity in the second half if they wanted to erase their play from last 20 minutes of the first half; they did exactly that. BC had a great start to the first half, building upon their phase play from the first 40 minutes of the game. Off the opening kick BC worked the ball between the forwards and backs and after a few strong phases BCís number 9 faked a pass off the ruck, drew in a few Durham players, and handed off to BCís number 10 who touched the ball down right between the posts at the 4 minute mark. BC would not miss the kick and drew the score closer, 21-17.
Like the first half both teams seemed to falter on executing simple passes, plays, and off-loads. Both teams took penalties, and at the 13-minute mark of the second half Durham paid for taking a penalty on their own 7-metre line. Off the penalty BC tapped the ball instead of going for touch, the BC number 10 drew in the Durham defence, and then passed the ball off to BCís winger who fought hard to fight against a tackling defender and outstretched his arms to just narrowly touch the ball down across the line. BC would miss their kick, but they regained the lead by a one-point margin making the score 22-21.
The middle frame of the second half saw both teamsí trade kicks for possession, trade handling errors, and trade penalties. Neither team saw the try line until the 34-minute mark of the second half when BC won a lineout on the right side of the field, fed the ball through the backs across the field, and scored on the opposite side. But, it was not the day for BCís kickers; BC missed their kick taking their lead to 27-21.
Durham was not disrupted by BCís play. Immediately off the re-start Durham controlled the ball and marched down the field. And, on BCís 7-metre line, Durham again grubbered the ball through an unprepared BC defensive line and touched the ball across the try line. Durham made their kick and took a one-point lead, 28-27, with about 5 minutes to go.
But, as throughout the entire game, penalties and handling errors were the kryptonite of both teams. With almost no time left Durham took a penalty on their 25-metre line. Instead of going for touch, BC took the smart option and elected to go for goal. BCís kicker took his time, lined up his shot, and executed. BC slotted the penalty kick, the referee blew the final whistle, and BC took the game by a slim margin of 30-28.
This game against Durham University was the first of a few trial games for the BC Senior Menís team as they prepare to start the Canadian Rugby Championships in August. Throughout all of July, BCís coaches and managers will be having open trials to scout for prospective BC players. Former captain of Canada, Pat Riordan, who is helping with the BC selection process, had this to say about the open trials.
ďItís a good way to see new players, and a good way to see how players function in an open format. You can always go about selecting players you would usually see, but this way we can uncover the diamonds in the rough.Ē
Riordan emphasized how one of the main ideas of these open trials for the BC team is that it allows the players to show coaches and managers their ambition. These open trials allow players to display that they want to represent something, whether it be their club, province, or country.
This match against Durham University in Langford was mainly for players from Vancouver Island to come and showcase their talents. BC will face-off against Durham University again next week, and the rematch will allow players from Vancouver and the surrounding areas to display their talents to try and earn a spot on the BC team.
Jim de Goede
Blake van Heyningen