PENTICTON, BC - A new Saratoga Cup champion will be crowned on Sunday when the four independent men's league division champions assemble in Pencticton for the 2012-13 provincial final. The Saratoga Cup is contested for annually by teams in the British Columbia Rugby Union that only have one men's club side.
This year's hosts Penticton earned the right to represent the Okanagan region after holding off a late surge by Merritt in the ORU league this past summer. Looking to bring the Saratoga Cup back to the Kootenays for the first time are the Rocky Mountain Rogues. Williams Lake will represent the Northern BC region and Lower Mainland-Vancouver Island region will be sending the Brit Lions out of Delta.
Saratoga Cup Schedule:
Saturday, September 15:
1 (Penticton) vs 4 (Williams Lake) Kick Off @ 2:30PM (GM1)
2 (Rogues) vs 3 (Brit Lions) Kick Off @ 4:00PM (GM2)
Sunday, September 16:
Loser GM2 vs GM1 Kick Off @ 9:30AM (2012 Saratoga Cup Consolation Match)
Winner GM1 vs GM2 Kick Off @ 11:00AM (2012 Saratoga Cup Championship)
Williams Lake Rustlers RFC
Region: Northern BC
2012 regular season record: 16-10
2012 league record: 2-0, both games against Prince George
2012 tournament record: played in 5 tournaments
Total travel this year: 5,100km - another 2,000km to finish season which includes Penticton
Who to watch: Riley Ilnicki (flank) and Brendon Pritchard (no. 8) have taken over the leadership of the forwards and Sky Freeman (wing and top try scorer) and the wily Derek Funk (standoff) in the backs have all had excellent seasons
Coaches perspective - Todd Pritchard: "We are bringing a relatively young team and hope to use the games to both build team chemistry and give our young athletes a feel for playing rugby at a higher level. The nature of rugby in the north has us playing a summer season and we will miss our young athletes that are off to university. We always relish the opportunity to play and the chance to discuss the game and its new challenges with our opponents afterwards. We are looking forward to a great weekend in Penticton."
Penticton Harlequins RFC
2012 regular season record:
Who to watch: Calum Lloyd, Brandon Messier, Jesse Conibear, Chris Hanon
Coaches perspective - Ken Sommerfeldt: For the third time in the club's history the Penticton Harlequins have earned the right to challenge for the Saratoga Cup. The Harlequins had a strong start to the spring season but had to weather a mid season slump and a surge by Merritt to maintain a first place position at the end of the regular season. A hard fought playoff win against Merritt secured their spot in the annual provincial tourney, hosted for the fourth year in a row in Penticton by the Harlequins.
Rocky Mountain Rogues RFC
2012 regular season record:
Who to watch: Jared MacDonald (Captain), Byron Garrels, Sean Sinclair, Mike Hardy, Bryce Bostock, Loren Kozak, Matt Labine, Kieran Parfey, Sid Verma, Shawn Jacklin, Brandon Gallia
Coaches perspective - Jim Maletta: Locally developed players inside center, Captain, Jared MacDonald, who spent a season with the Meralomas, will lead the side into the Saratoga Cup. Back row forward Byron Garrels, who has played in both Calgary and Red Deer, as both have returned to their home club and been instrumental in the RMRRFC success over the past few seasons. Sean Sinclair, past Cowichan Rugby Club hooker leads the front row with props Mike Hardy, first year player Bryce Bostock and Loren Kozak will round out the front row.
Matt Labine returns to the Rogues after some time off from a shoulder injury and will increase the offensive and defensive capabilities of the back row. Kieran Parfey will direct the backline from fly half prior to heading to Burnaby Lake Rugby Club to play for the Junior side there. Sid Verma makes his first trip to the Saratoga Cup and can play flank or wing. Outside center Shawn Jacklin will also make his first Sartatoga Cup appearance as he is able to obtain leave from Camrose College hockey commitments for the competition. Winger/fullback Brandon Gallia is returning to the Cup competition and can threaten both the inside or outside of opposing backlines. The availability of Cam Spiers, at eighth man is undetermined at this time, but if available the former New Zealand player will turn heads at the competition with his strong ball in hand running and back row defensive coverage.
Other players are still to be determined depending on availability, but this years RMRRFC side will be seeking to bring home the cup to the Kootenays for the first time.
Brit Lions (Ex-Britannia Red Lions Athletic Association)
Region: Lower Mainland/Vancouver Island region
2012 regular season record: 6-2
The Brit Lions went 6-2 during the spring season and were the highest finishing independent club team in their division. The Brit Lions advanced to the Lower Mainland/Vancouver Island Third Division semifinals where they fell to eventual runners-up Velox in a 25-15 decision.
Coaches perspective - Andrew Walker: "We are going up with a mixture of U-19s and the regular third division squad. We are missing some of last season's squad due to recent weddings and some players leaving the club, so this will be the first time this squad has played together. We are heading to the Interior hoping to provide good competition to the Interior based clubs. This is the first time in quite a few years that our club has been involved in this tournament so we hope to represent our league and union well."