Kelowna, BC – July 28, 2019: The BC Rugby U19 Men’s XV completed a 2-0 series win over Alberta Wolfpack this weekend in Kelowna. The fixtures, held in parallel with the U16 Western Canadian Championships and either side of the Best of the West series between BC Bears and Prairie Wolfpack, served as a valuable connection between Age-Grade to Senior Rep Team rugby during an action-packed weekend in the Interior.
With a number of BC players already involved with National programs this summer, this was an opportunity for a new group of talented athletes to step up and experience this key transitional phase in rugby development. Fielding a number of young players on the roster, Head Coach Curry Hitchborn challenged his side to take greater levels of ownership in their game preparation and training, highlighting the maturity, level-headedness and responsibility that come with being a senior athlete.
The first encounter with Alberta Wolfpack was a steady and calculated exchange, both sides taking time to settle into their own stride and execute training ground plans. BC started to gain the upper hand, converting more of their forward pressure into valuable points. Alberta were far from a pushover though, BC forced to defend on their own try line several times over the course of the match. The mid-day heat was a factor both teams had to contend with, the glaring sun zapping strength on both sides, but not before BC secured a 33-7 win over their provincial neighbours.
During their rest day, both teams took part in a joint development session. BC Rugby’s Growth & Development Manager for Men & Boys, Aaron Takel, challenged both teams to think outside the box, analyse their own performances and that of their opposition and engage in peer-to-peer feedback. “We wanted to get these guys thinking critically about their game, but also working with each other. No one can appreciate the player experience like your opposite number and many of the athletes seemed to really connect with this approach. Yes, these guys are adversaries on the field in a game, but we all have the same common goal of delivering better rugby and better players. I’m proud of both teams for embracing this session and hope everyone took value from it”.
The second game may have taken place in the cool air of Sunday morning, but it was a heated affair nonetheless. BC took an early score to lead by 7 and apply a little extra pressure on their opponents. The response was well absorbed by the BC defence, growing the side’s confidence. recycling the ball well and maintaining decent possession, soon BC added a second and third try to their tally, leading 17-0 at the half with the Wolfpack unable to creep on to the scoreboard. As the mercury crept up on the thermometer, the intensity on the field started to rise with passionate and motivational roars coming from both sides following successful turnovers or forcing an opponents error.
BC continued to add to their score in the second half with some blistering runs down the near touchline and had more than doubled their lead to 36-0 at the 60-minute mark. This scoreline would suggest one-way traffic but in reality, it was a well-contested game, Wolfpack posing a formidable opposition and challenging BC to play their hardest. Passionate hearts splilled over on both sides towards the later stages of the match resulting in a handful of cards being dealt out, an unfortunate note on an otherwise positive game. As a final twist, just as BC thought they had the game wrapped up, Wolfpack found some gaps in the armour and turned in two rapid tries just 5 minutes from full-time. BC tried to rally quickly from this one-two punch but suddenly it was the Wolfpack who were in control and in the ascendency. They added a third try to their tally to bring the game to 36-19 and looked like they could well have added more had the full-time whistle not blown moments later.
Despite the late fracas in game two, both sides showed some excellent rugby over the weekend, attested to by the crowds of supporters that lined the field to cheer the teams on. The U16 teams gathered at the sides of the field got a chance to see what might be expected of them in a few years time, not just in terms of physicality, but tactical and situational awareness too. While Summer Representative XVs rugby can often seem like a pinnacle itself before a new season commences, it is important to remember these are all stages of a pathway towards a greater overall goal: developing more BC players to lead National Teams to success. Based on these games, it will be exciting to watch the progress of players from both the BC and Alberta Wolfpack U19 XVs over the coming years.
If you are looking for more BC Rep XV Team Rugby to follow, we’ve got you covered. The U18 and U17 Boys’ and Girls’ teams are already in action at the U18 Western Canadian Championships in Regina. You can watch the live stream of games from field 1 via this link on Saturday and Sunday, Aug 3-4 (download match the schedule). On August 30, the Canadian Men’s XV will continue their 2019 Rugby World Cup warm-up program with a match against the BC All-Stars XV at Westhills Stadium in Langford. This is not just a chance to see some of the best rugby talents in the province, but also one of two opportunities to see the national team before they jet off to Tokyo. Tickets are just $10 for Adults, $5 for children and the match is set to kick-off at 6:30 pm (PST). A live stream will be available via the BC Rugby Youtube page.