WHITE ROCK, BC - English touring side Northampton School Boys were given all they could handle this past Sunday afternoon at South Surrey Athletic Park when they narrowly escaped with a 24-12 victory over invitational side Rugby Guardians.
The Guardians - based in Surrey - have been around less than a year and pride themselves on the ethos and playing style of the World-renowned Barbarians who focus on high tempo, free-flowing rugby. Sunday's Guardians roster was comprised of Bayside, Langley, Surrey and Abbotsford athletes who showed well against a touring side with four Northampton Academy and three England Elite athletes on their roster.
Earlier in the week, Northampton had recorded heavy victories against age grade sides from Abbotsford RFC and United Rugby Club.
On Sunday, Northampton's high-octane offence came to a grinding halt as they ran into a solid Guardians defence. For much of the first half the Guardians dominated territory and set the pace.
Northampton were first to score, however, taking points when they were on offer for a 3-0 lead just before the half.
After the break it was the Guardians who dotted down first when Bayside and BC U17 provincial rep Tomasi Vataiki intercepted a pass and went over for a try. BC U16 grad Nick Collett converted to make it 7-3 for the hosts.
Northampton responded with a converted try when flanker Ollie Hartfield picked up from the scrum five yards out and went over. The back-and-forth scoring continued when Guardians forward and BC U16 Co-Captain Cali Martinez touched down in the far corner to make it 12-10.
Northampton would take a 17-12 lead shortly after through a Julian Fitton-Swan try but it was the Guardians who found themselves in scoring position in the final minutes as they looked to tie the game up. The Guardians were unable to convert pressure into points, however, and Northampton turned the ball over and ran it back for another converted try to close out the win 24-12.
"Our lads got smashed, but just won," said former Bayside and current Northampton School Boy's coach Paul Bryant.
Man of the Match went to Guardians fly half Rupert Peers.
"Rupert kept the Guardians on the front foot with numerous breaks," said Guardians Director of Rugby Andy Blackburn. "He epitomized the spirit of the game and the way we are looking for it to be played with this program."
Will Foss (Langley, BC U17) and Jason Hignell (Abbotsford, BC U16) were also commended by Blackburn for their impressive performances. It was a remarkable effort by the Guardians who went up against a side with just three losses in their last five seasons.
"We hope to have more opportunities like this where the kids can come together and play freestyle, flowing rugby," Blackburn added. "The players love it and they aren't chastised for playing off the cuff. It's a great opportunity for our top players to play against touring teams and to keep sharp when they aren't participating in the rep season."
For more information on the Guardians Rugby program or to arrange fixtures with the program, touring sides are asked to contact Andy Blackburn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guardians Roster - Oct 28 v Northampton School Boys
Drew Coles - Bayside
Kai Duchnycz - Bayside
Will Foss - Langley
Christian Haldane - Bayside
Sebastian Hebert - Surrey
Jason Hignell - Abbotsford
Aiden Kilpatrick - Abbotsford
Logan Mackie - Bayside
Cali Martinez - Bayside
Joey Murphy - Bayside
Riley Robinson - Surrey
Liam Wilson - Bayside
Carson Burgin - Bayside
Nick Collett - Bayside
Shane Dagg - Bayside
Reid Gordon - Bayside
Noah Jensen - Abbotsford
Alex Klassen - Bayside
Andrew O'Connor - Bayside
Rupert Peers - Bayside (Captain)
Bryn Redies - Bayside
Gavin Rowell - Bayside
Tomasi Vataiki - Bayside
Blair Wannamaker - Bayside