Vancouver, BC – June 29-July 1, 2019: The Provincial Regional Championships (PRCs), sponsored by B2Gold, concluded yesterday after three days of action-packed youth rugby. The tournament, one of the highlights of the rugby calendar in BC, took place at the Gerald McGavin Rugby Centre at UBC with nearly 50 regional teams vying for glory across six divisions.
There was a wonderful, festival-like atmosphere surrounding the venue over the Canada Day long weekend with scores of passionate supporters cheering on from the touchlines. Near perfect weather and pristine pitch conditions set the stage for a thoroughly memorable event for all involved.
The U14 Girls Division has now firmly established itself as a regular feature of the PRCs, despite this only being the third year as part of the competition schedule. After a fun and productive skills camp was held for the young players on the first day of the tournament, the nine teams enthusiastically took to the fields to battle it out for their division title. The Island and Fraser Valley Regions both seem packed to the brim with aspiring young female rugby players, between them accounting for eight of the teams. Not to be outdone, TORA’s U14 Girls showed that there is plenty of future female potential in the interior too. After some exciting Pool fixtures and Round Robin battles, the medal matches were set.
The tussle for the U14 Girls Bronze Medal was a heart in mouth affair as Fraser Valley West Gold fought tooth and nail against Vancouver Island Tide 1 in a match that could easily have gone either way. Come the final whistle, the Island team had just edged in front to secure third place by one point, 20-19.
In the U14 Girls Division final, Fraser Valley East Gold took on Vancouver Island Tide 2 in an equally close-fought encounter. Both sides showed some great pace alongside cohesive team play, an excellent example of some of the bright young talents we can expect to see in years to come. The island side took the initial lead and were ahead at half-time, but the Fraser Valley team were not deterred and clawed their way back level and then took the lead with an excellent move out wide. Vancouver Island Tide mounted a comeback but ran out of time before the final whistle, the Fraser Valley East Gold team securing the win 27-22.
The U14 Boys division was in action over all three days of the tournament and there were a number of matches separated by just one try. After a round of pool games, the teams moved into the knockout phases of the event and by the third day, the fixtures were set to determine the final standings. TORA successfully overcame North Vancouver Island Tsunami to claim 7th place in an exciting 24-17 match, while VRU South managed to edge a close encounter against Fraser Valley West to claim 5th. The bronze medal game was an all Vancouver Rugby Union affair, with VRU West defeating VRU North by 20-0 in a match that was more competitive than the scoreline would suggest.
The final was contested between VRU East and Vancouver Island Tide, the young Island players being raucously cheered on to the field by their U16 counterparts. The opening exchanges were well balanced and the majority of the first half had elapsed before Tide opened the scoring. The side clearly grew in confidence as the game went on as they threw attack after attack at VRU East. The Mainland side played some excellent rugby but, starved of possession, they were regularly having to play a defensive game rather than mounting their own attacks. And so it was that a jubilant Vancouver Island Tide team leapt in the air in celebration at full time, winning the fixture 40-0 and securing the gold medal.
There was plenty of heart in mouth moments during the U16 Girls competition over the course of the tournament, with several breakaway chases from one end of the pitch to the other. The bronze medal match was an all-island affair with Vancouver Island Tide taking on North Vancouver Island Tsunami. The two sides had met the previous day during the pool stages with North Island coming away the victors, giving this medal match an extra edge of tension. This second encounter was an altogether closer fought game, with neither side able to dominate the other, possession and advantage trading sides regularly and both sides working feverishly to gain the slightest of advantages. In the end, Vancouver Island Tide managed to edge the game 12-10 and lay their hands on the bronze medal, a single conversion the only thing that could separate these two impressive sides.
The final saw Fraser Valley East take on TORA. These two sides had been ranked 1st and 2nd respectively after the pool stages, which included an initial encounter that Fraser Valley East won 31-7. So with both sides full of confidence from their performances in the tournament and aware of what each other was capable of, the stage was set for an exciting match. Fraser Valley East were the first to strike from close range and capitalised on their advantage, pinning TORA back in their half. By half time, the Valley team had secured a 17 point lead, but TORA were not done fighting yet. The second half was a much closer affair, TORA securing more of the possession but struggling to find a way through the wall of black shirts that stood before them. A final converted try from Fraser Valley East made certain of the victory, winning 24-0. Despite losing in the final, credit to the TORA side who wore beaming smiles as they awaited their silver medals moments later.
The U16 Boys division gave the gathered crowds plenty of entertainment over the course of the tournament including two tied games, some flamboyant passing and some real intensity at the breakdown. after two days of pool games, the knockout stages loomed. VRU South 1 claimed 9th place over FV West Green while compatriots VRU South 2 took seventh place over VRU East. TORA grabbed 5th in the final standings in a comfortable win over North Vancouver Island Tsunami and soon it was only the medal matched to go. The bronze medal game was an all Fraser Valley fixture with East facing West Gold. These two teams had already met in a 12-12 tussle on day one and there was no lack of intensity in the rematch with a medal on the line. It was Fraser Valley East who would clinch the game 17-5 in the end, the third FV East team to lay their hands on a medal so far that day.
The final of the U16 Boys division saw Vancouver Island Tide take on VRU North, with both sides already familiar with each other having played just the day before in the pool stages. Contrary to the high scoring nature of the division so far (averaging 33 points per fixture), the final was a low scoring but highly captivating affair. Both sides were highly physical, neither shying away from contact and the opening exchanges were well balanced. VIRU managed to edge in front around the 5min mark but the conversion went wide. This slight advantage kept everyone on the edge of their seats as the action flowed up and down the pitch, VRU North threatening to score on a handful of occasions but their opponents stubbornly repelling their attacks. Equally, while the island side mounted more of their own offensives, they failed to break the VRU defensive line again before the end of the game. Some say it doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile, and when full-time came, a 5-0 win was more than enough to bring jubilation to the hearts of the Vancouver Island Tide team.
The U18 divisions have long been the source of some of the best rugby at this tournament and 2019 did not disappoint, with excellent performances on the field from teams right across the long weekend. The U18 Girls showed some excellent form over the course of the competition with some great athletic talent on show.
In the bronze medal match, Fraser Valley East took on North Vancouver Island Tsunami with plenty of vocal support coming from both sets of supporters. It was a very closely contested match, the teams well balanced and the battle ranged all across the pitch as each side looked to exploit an opening. In the end, the teams could only be separated by a single score, North Vancouver Island Tsunami winning the bronze medal and collecting them early to help ensure the didn’t miss their ferry back across the Georgia Straight.
In the final, TORA faced Vancouver Island Tide, both sides going undefeated in the tournament until this point. This set up a highly anticipated game and the contest, despite coming after a long three days of competition, was well worth the wait. Both sides played with great tenacity and purpose, a great demonstration of the progress that has been made over the years in the Age-Grade girls game. Despite many areas of the game being well contested by both sides, it was Vancouver Island Tide who got the upper hand, scoring first and applying the pressure to TORA. The wall of red shirts repelled everything that was thrown at it, no matter how hard TORA strived. To compound the matter, Tide used their pace out wide to devastating effect, stretching defensive lines and keeping TORA on the back foot. In the end, it was Vancouver Island Tide that emerged victorious, winning 17-0 to claim the gold and defend their 2018 title.
Power and pace were two of the words that came to mind when watching much of the U18 Boys division this year. Countless electrifying line breaks and scything runs broke through defensive lines. Tacklers were remorseless as they brought their prey to the ground with audible thuds. North Vancouver Island Tsunami claimed 7th place with a 31-22 win over VRU East while VIRU confidently dismantled Fraser Valley West by 31-0. The bronze medal match was a Vancouver derby, with VRU South managing to gain the upper hand on their rivals VRU North and winning 12-0 in a well-contested game.
The final saw TORA facing Fraser Valley East in the late afternoon sun and in front of an eager crowd. The speed and strength that both sides wielded was quickly evident and onlookers were treated to a fantastic display. Fraser Valley were the first to draw blood, winning a lineout well inside their own 22 before quickly shipping the ball through hands to the other touchline. At this point their #15 set off on a blistering run from well inside his own half, evading the clutches of his opposite number and diving over the try line. The conversion was successful and it wasn’t long before Fraser Valley were building their lead, their #12 breaking a tackle and stepping the last defender to grab a second try. With a 14-0 lead at half time, TORA knew they were up against it but continued to push hard in the second half, some great tactical play bringing them close to scoring on a few occasions, only to be thwarted by the black and green shirts. The match seemed all but secured when Fraser Valley East added a third try 10mins from full time, their kicker once again producing an excellent conversion. Try as they might, TORA couldn’t gain any more traction in the game and the final whistle blew with the scoreboard showing 21-0, cheers ringing out from the Fraser Valley fans.
In total, nearly 1000 players were in attendance over the three days, along with hundreds of committed parents and supporters, dozens of coaching staff, match officials and organisers. Nearly 4000 minutes of competitive rugby were played, showcasing some of the very best Age-Grade rugby talent in the Province. The enthusiasm from the athletes was palpable and they consistently delivered exciting end to end rugby action, much to the delight of onlookers.
BC Rugby would like to make a number of thanks to groups and individuals. To the match officials, coaching staff, parents, supporters, players and volunteers who all played their part in making the tournament such an enjoyable and successful affair. Also to Canadian National Men’s Team players Admir Cejvanovic, Justin Douglas and Lucas Hammond for attending the event and inspiring the young athletes. Finally to our Sponsor B2Gold for their continued support of youth rugby in BC.
Scores and results can be found at bcrugby.com/prcs, along with a link to the matches that were live streamed.
Photographs will be available for download from 9am on Thursday, July 4th. Stay tuned to the BC Rugby social media pages and website for links to the galleries.