WHITE ROCK, BC - The newly-promoted Bayside Sharks are here to stay. After being relegated to tier two competition last season, White Rock's Bayside Athletic Association were promoted back to the Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League and last weekend they recorded their first win against the UBCOB Ravens. It may be a little early to label Bayside as title contenders, but at 1-1 the Sharks are dreaming of emulating Capilano's success - the North Shore rugby club that capped off a historic return to the Premier League by lifting the coveted Rounsefell Cup last May.
Bayside defeated the UBCOB Ravens 24-17 on September 22nd and this Saturday they have the chance to follow up the win against perennial powerhouse Oak Bay Castaway Wanderers.
"I think the result [against Ravens] shows that we are going to be competitive this year. We aren't in the Premier League just to be the eighth team and get some games in. Just like everybody else, we are looking at a Rounsefell Cup run," said Bayside's head coach Pat Kearney.
Lifting Bayside to victory last week was sharpshooter Peter Clifford who downed the Ravens with three penalties, a convert and a drop goal. Clifford was the 2010-2011 Premier League top scorer and again topped the scoring charts in the 2011-2012 Tier Two Okanagan Spring Brewery League.
A key leader on Bayside's roster has also been no. 8 and Captain Pat Bickerton. Gurvinder Kalar is also a proven threat on the flanks and with the return of Pacific Tyee scrum half Cody Rockson to this week's lineup, the Sharks will look to hit the ground running.
"The average age of our top side is around 23 or 24 so it's great to have the leadership of those guys who have been in the trenches and can help dictate the flow of the game," added Kearney.
Up next are last year's semifinalists and 2011 Rounsefell Cup champions Castaway Wanderers, a team Kearney knows well from his university career with the UVic Vikes.
"It's never easy traveling to Windsor Park and it will be especially tough with CW having come off a loss last week to Burnaby. I've always enjoyed going there and with it being our first trip to the Island this year, our guys are excited and it should be a really entertaining game," Kearney added.
The Castaway Wanderers are currently a team in flux with a number of their players away with national team commitments. The Oak Bay side are also without tighthead prop Andrew Tiedemann who left for France this past week to play professional rugby with French Division Two side Auch. CW have added depth to their ranks, however, with recent additions Ian Manly and Mike Fuailefau. Key players to watch include stalwarts Matt and Paul Buckley and Canada prop Hubert Buydens.
Bayside and CW square off at Windsor Park at 2:45 this Saturday, September 29th.
NOTE: A special ceremony will be taking place at Windsor Park as the club unveils a new park bench in memory of the late Tom Stobart. A respected player and coach at Castaway Wanderers RFC, Stobart was also involved with the BC U18 provincial team and Canada U19 program.
"Tom had a lot of ties to White Rock through players like myself and Adam Kleeberger," noted Kearney. "Bayside are very pleased to be part of the ceremony and we look forward to honouring Tom's memory."
Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League - Sat. September 29th:
Capilano RFC at UBCOB Ravens (Jericho Park) 2:45pm
Bayside AA at Castaway Wanderers (Windsor Park) 2:45pm
Premier League: SCHEDULE / STANDINGS / SCORING RACE