VANCOUVER - Cowichan Rugby Club heads to Jericho Park on Saturday afternoon with the hopes of being the first Island team to capture a U19 men's provincial championship since the Castaway Wanderers defeated Abbotsford back in 2008. The Piggies will be up against Lower Mainland champions UBCOB Ravens of Vancouver's West Side, a team who cruised through the playoffs and defeated Abbotsford 31-10 in last weekend's regional finals.
U19 Men's Provincial Final, Sat. November 24th:
Cowichan at UBCOB Ravens (Jericho Park) 2:00pm
Coached by former national team standout and scrum guru Gary Dukelow, Cowichan's numbers have swelled this season and benefited from a number of North Island school programs producing top level players.
"The best thing I have witnessed as the head coach is how kids from four different programs have blended together in true 'old fashion' club style," said Dukelow of his team's recent success. "Cowichan recognizes the importance of local development and sees a hopeful future in these players. Special recognition should go to the Ladysmith program which has helped to produce some great talent in Brennan Bonar, Antonio Corbin, Mike Needham, Quinton Ogden and Cam Hall."
A key contributor to this year's team has also been Captain Gregor Grantham, the son of former Cowichan standout and current club President Paul Grantham. Grantham captained Cowichan to a convincing 38-5 win over Velox Valhallians in last week's Island Final.
"We have a number of younger players with great potential," Dukelow added. "We also created an atmosphere of club commitment and had great success with attendance at practice on a regular basis. Our focus has been on a creative attack approach using various skills and talents to 'keep the ball alive' and to balance that with a unified defensive pattern."
Cowichan will have to match the Ravens' physicality on Saturday and will need to shut down the likes of Guido Suez, Douglas Del Monico and standout fly half Matt Law - all of which recorded tries in the regional final last week. A key part of the Ravens arsenal is also try-scorer Karsten Leitner who has carried his form into the club season since lifting a national championship with BC's U18 team this past summer.
"We expect a very challenging encounter with UBCOB Ravens this weekend and look forward to the opportunity of playing together for one more weekend," Dukelow added.
NOTE: This will be Cowichan's first appearance in the U19 provincial finals since back-to-back losses to Capilano in 2007 and 2006.
BC U19 Finals Results
2011: Capilano 46, Castaway Wanderers 5
2010: Vancouver Rowing Club 50, Castaway Wanderers 0
2009: Abbotsford 22, James Bay 10
2008: Castaway Wanderers 17, Abbotsford 12
2007: Capilano 22, Cowichan 17
2006: Capilano def. Cowichan
2005: Capilano 22, James Bay 12
2004: Cowichan 20, Bayside 14
2003: Cowichan 22, Burnaby 12