Vancouver, BC – May 4, 2019: The 2019 BC Rugby Club Finals took place at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex today, with champions crowned in the eight Men’s and Women’s Senior Leagues. UBCOB Ravens RFC stole the headlines in the Men’s competition by winning both the Men’s Premier League and Men’s Premier Reserve, while Capilano RFC stunned everyone by edging defending champions Westshore RFC to claim the Women’s Premier League title. Elsewhere, Bayside Sharks RFC secured the Men’s Division 1 title, Langley Rugby Club were crowned Men’s Division 2 champions, Women’s Division 1 was taken by Abbotsford RFC, Scribes RFC retained their Women’s Division 2 title and Axemen Rugby Club were the winners of the Men’s Division 3.
With the fields at Burnaby Lake bathed in sunshine and crowds of supporters packed around the touchlines, the scene was set for some fantastic rugby action. The atmosphere generated by the spectators brought an extra element to the day, buoying the teams as they battled to get their hands on the silverware. If you were unable to join them and watch the action live, check out the match summaries below. Videos are available for the four matches on Field 2.
MEN’S PREMIER LEAGUE
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Final – Burnaby Lake 22 – 30 UBCOB Ravens
A year ago, UBCOB Ravens caused an upset when they toppled favourites UBC to claim the 2017/18 Men’s Premier League. A year later, they took to the field as defending champions and against an on form Burnaby Lake side, roared on by a passionate home field crowd. Despite this extra pressure, Ravens quickly went about making their intentions clear and got on the board first thanks to the raw speed of Full Back, Aaron McLelland. Burnaby responded and it looked like a tooth and nail battle was in the making. Ravens had other ideas and channelling memories of their previous two wins over these opponents, they promptly extended their lead and dictated play for much of the rest of the half, taking a 15-5 advantage into half time.
If the first half had been about control, Ravens kicked off the second half with a degree of flair, quickly stretching their lead to a whopping 30-5 and causing Burnaby supporters hearts to sink. Not the Burnaby players though, who rallied in superb style and dominated possession for large swathes of the second half. Their efforts were rewarded and they started to chip away at the Ravens’ lead. This persistence paid off as they crept closer on the scoreboard, but the clock was against them. Ravens defended valiantly, making occasional forays up the field, but ultimately spending much of their time absorbing Burnaby pressure. Eventually, the home side ran out of time to pull off what would have been an incredible comeback and the UBCOB Ravens roared in delight at the final whistle, winning 30-22.
This title defence, their first in nearly 30 years, capped off the end of a huge year for the Jericho-based team, having already captured the Canadian Club Championships title in the Fall of 2018. “I said to the boys in the dressing room, let’s go out and express ourselves on the field” commented Flanker David O’Donoghue. He continued, “We had some great phases in the game and showed just what we could do. Towards the end, Burnaby showed why they can never be written off and thankfully we managed to hold on for the win. I think the team really showed its nerve and determination this afternoon and to a man, I can’t fault them. We need to say a huge thank you to our coaches and staff for the massive amounts of work they have put in and we are just glad we could deliver the goods on the day.”
Finally, when asked what this game meant to the players and the club, O’Donoghue had no problem illustrating the significance of the win, stating “I saw the look on Frank’s face (Fekete – President of UBCOB Ravens) and there were tears, I think that explains just how much this means to us all as a club”.
WOMEN’S PREMIER LEAGUE
Final – Westshore 19 – 20 Capilano
One of the most exciting games of the day, the Women’s Premier League Final was a nerve-wracking affair for players and fans alike. Westshore came into the fixture as favourites, two-time defending champions and top seeds from Regular Season. However, Capilano showed that they meant business as they dominated the opening exchanges, building a commanding 17-0 lead in the first 25mins. The team from Westshore was packed with wise heads on experienced shoulders and they didn’t panic, tightening up their game and taking the fight back to Capilano. Gradually, phase by phase, score by score, they reinserted themselves back into contention and by midway through the second half they took the lead through a Paige Farries try, 19-17.
Both teams now clearly had the measure of one another and the following fifteen minutes was a monumental tussle that kept onlookers on the edge of their seats. Neither side seemed to be able to get the upper hand and as the clock ticked down it looked like Westshore might be on their way to a hat-trick of titles. But with five minutes to go, Capilano’s no.12 Macy Munson struck a penalty kick from a challenging position to edge the mainland side in front by just a single point. This lit the touchpaper under both teams and the final 5 minutes of the game was a nail-biting affair, Westshore trying to exploit any gaps they could find while Capilano defended as if their lives depended on it. When the final whistle blew, the eruption of joy and elation from the Capilano players was palpable. They had pulled off a famous victory and secured their first Women’s Premier League title in nearly a decade.
“It has been a big season and there has been a lot of hard work, not just from the people on the field today but the coaches, staff and everyone behind the scenes too,” commented Capilano No.6 Jessica Hanna. “It’s especially important this year as we’re celebrating the first year of our Women’s Alumni Program. Having both of our Women’s teams make their division finals was huge and to be able to add this celebration to the mix is incredible. It was definitely not an easy win for us, Westshore are always our hardest opponent and they showed that again today. Our girls gave it everything they had and I’m just delighted we could pull off the win when it mattered most.”
MEN’S PREMIER RESERVE
Final – UBCOB Ravens 44 – 25 UVic Norsemen
Having been defeated in the 2017/18 Final, UBCOB Raven’s were eager to make amends this year. They faced an in-form UVic Norsemen team full of exciting talent and the resulting match did not disappoint. Ravens took the initiative and controlled the game early on, building a commanding lead. UVic worked tirelessly and always looked capable of turning the tide at a moment’s notice. Towards the later part of the second half, they found an extra gear and started to close the gap on their opponents. However, Ravens maintained their composure and hung on for the win. A team that had done things the hard way, having to come through two rounds of playoffs and only qualifying for the Finals after a last-minute play gave them the win over rivals UBC just sevens days previous. “We really peaked at the right time,” said UBCOB Ravens No. 1, Ben Couling, “It has been a hell of a season. We knew if we could maintain possession we would be able to dictate the flow and play our game, and that is exactly what the boys did.”
WOMEN’S DIVISION 1
Final – Abbotsford 52 – 17 Nanaimo Hornets
There was an air of the unknown about this fixture, as it was the first time the two sides had met in 2019. Hornets used this to their advantage and played a powerful game, producing some big hits and making Abbotsford work hard in defence. The Fraser Valley side had impressive form coming into this game though, unbeaten since January, and after weathering the storm from the island team, they began to show exactly why no team had managed to get the better of them. A fast, expansive game with some great running lines gave them the upper hand as they opened up a bigger and bigger gulf on the scoreboard. Nanaimo weren’t ready to give in though and buoyed by a very vocal band of travelling supporters, they continued to battle hard right to the final whistle.
“It was a real push out there,” said Stephanie Wiebe, Abbotsford’s Full Back. “Not knowing what Nanaimo were going to be like as an opponent, we knew all that we could do was come out all guns blazing and play our game, so that’s what we did. It was a brilliant match to be part of and credit to Nanaimo for being such great opponents, but we’re delighted to finish the season undefeated, it’s a really special achievement for all the girls.”
MEN’S DIVISION 1
Final – Bayside Sharks 34 – 29 Abbotsford
The two teams were superbly matched as they battled for the Men’s Division 1 title. Both playing a hard-hitting, physical style of game, the throngs of spectators were treated to a thoroughly entertaining spectacle. Bayside came into the match in impressive form and got a couple of scores up on the board before being pegged back by a patient and resilient Abbotsford side. This was the theme for the match, Bayside getting their noses in front, only for Abbotsford to reel them back in. It wasn’t until the almost the 60th minute that Abbotsford took the lead for the first time, causing the tension surrounding the fixture intensified even further. Both sides doubled their efforts and the monumental tussle continued. Bayside found another gear and managed to get back in front, only to find a determined Abbotsford unwilling to throw in the towel. Another push from Abbotsford brought them back to within a single score of the lead. The last minutes of the match ticked by agonisingly slowly for Bayside and painfully fast for Abbotsford as the battle went right down to the wire. When full time was eventually called, Bayside Sharks emerged victorious, celebrating a hard-won title with outpourings of raw emotion.
“That was a real nail biter, being up with 10mins to go only to be pegged back to a five-point game was tough going” commented Spencer Thorpe, Bayside’s No.11 and playing in his third Club Finals weekend. “We took our foot off the gas a bit in the middle but then finished strong and I have to give so much credit to all the boys on the team for digging deep. Bayside is creating a culture around the club that is bringing in more and more rugby players at all levels, so hopefully, we’ll have a few more results like this in years to come.”
WOMEN’S DIVISION 2
Final – Scribes 19 – 12 Capilano
The first match of the day definitely set the tone for an exciting series of rugby matches, with Capilano and Scribes battling for the Women’s Division 2 title. Scribes, defending champions from last year, got the scoreboard ticking over first but Capilano responded quickly with a converted try of their own. Two well-matched sides, the play ranged across the field, neither side able to dominate the other and fully dictate the match. Scribes pulled ahead just before halftime to lead 12-7, but the match was far from settled.
The defending champions struck first in the second half, looking like they might finally be able to put the game to bed, only for Capilano to show their mental and physical toughness and peg Scribes back to within a single score with just 5mins left on the clock. Hearts were in mouths as the two sides continued to trade attacks in the final minutes of the match, Scribes doing just enough to snuff out any final hopes of an upset from Capilano and winning the game 19-12. Roars of “back-to-back” rang out from the scrum of yellow shirts as they bundled together in celebration.
MEN’S DIVISION 2
Final – Langley 24 – 19 Kamloops
This match promised to be a real battle and did not disappoint, the 2017/18 champions Kamloops facing the scoring powerhouse of Langley. It was a truly physical encounter between the two teams, thumping hits being delivered all across the field. Both sides showed some electric pace as they attempted to thwart or breakthrough defensive lines and the scoreline always seemed to be hanging in the balance. Each team was well supported too, their fans making themselves heard right across the pitch as they urged their respective sides on towards glory. In the end, Langley stole a march and managed to get a chunk of daylight between them on the scoreboard. Despite valiant efforts from the Kamloops players, launching wave after wave of attack and camping out on the Langley 5m line, they were unable to grab one final try before full time and it was the green shirts that roared in delight as the full-time whistle blew. Credit to both teams though on a thoroughly entertaining match, more than living up to expectation.
MEN’S DIVISION 3
Final – Axemen 33 – 3 Richmond
Simply looking at the final scoreline in this fixture paints a very one-sided picture, but the reality on the pitch was a much more balanced and compelling game. Axemen were favourites coming into the game and showed they had both power and pace from early on in the match. However, Richmond were no slouches and caused the Axemen no end of problems in many areas of play. Both sides displayed a dogged determination, but Richmond found themselves falling just short when the try line was just meters away. Credit to them for being so resilient and showing real energy and creativity right the way to the end of the game. However, today would be the Axemen’s day and their persistence and execution kept them that half step ahead of their opponents. A comfortable scoreline in the end, but a riveting match that kept spectators well entertained throughout.
“It was real step up in terms of physicality and competitiveness on the field,” said Axemen’s Fly Half, Neil Irwin, “Richmond were fantastic and made us work hard all the way. We knew that we were capable of grinding teams down, so we stuck with that gameplan and progressively the scoreboard told the story. Jeeze, it wasn’t easy though! As a club, we’re definitely on a growth trend. We really hope to get more and more players from the Sea-to-Sky corridor playing rugby week in/week out and keep growing the game.”