August 12, 2012
By Peter Diekmeyer
National Rugby Festival Day four coverage
British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario dominated today’s National Rugby Festival finals. British Columbia emerged as a major national powerhouse picking up Gold medals in two of the three major divisions, the U18 men’s, and the U16 men’s. Alberta took the U18 women’s title as well as a Silver medal in the U18 men’s division. Ontario managed to wrestle out two Silvers. Hometown Quebec teams played in two of the three Bronze medal rounds.
British Columbia U16 men’s take gold
British Columbia1 entered today’s final round flushed with confidence after having sailed through the tournament undefeated. They did not disappoint, slowly and steadily overpowering an Ontario1 team that on many occasions displayed superior, if not outstanding individual efforts, but was a slightly less effective than their rivals in team-play.
British Columbia1 got off to an early start by capitalizing on a turnover picked up by halfback Cole Keffer, who was everywhere throughout the first half. Keffer made his presence felt again a short time later, when he made a beautiful quick pass hitting teammate Theo Sander on the run, who punched it in for a try. “He’s a small shifty guy,” said Ontario’s coach Ian McLeod admiringly regarding Keffer. “If I had to single out one person on their team who had a real impact today it would be him.”
If there was a consistent theme dominating the game it was British Columbia’s short and accurate passing and consistency in passing to players on the run, which cumulated for long yardage gains. In contrast, Ontario’s runs, tended to be longer individual efforts that were not sustained. British Columbia’s passing was particularly evident on their second try, which resulted in a run that started with a series of nine, short, accurate handoffs, that culminated in a picture-perfect try by Jade Nyuen. British Columbia ended the half up 12-0.
But Ontario wasn’t done, coming back in the second on tries by Trenton Cooper and Hayden Ryan, the last of which was scored with a few seconds in the game bringing the score to 15-13. Despite a close effort, Ontario was unable to convert on a conversion attempt forced from an impossible angle.
In all British Columbia’s U16 boys put on an impressive tournament performance, sweeping through undefeated. However Ontario1 performed well too. “We had a couple of great chances in the game that we did not capitalize on,” said McLeod. “We simply hadn’t seen that kind of competition so far in the tournament so we were caught on our heels in the first half. By the time we figured out what we were up against it was too late.”
British Columbia U18 men muscle out Alberta in final
The British Columbia U18 men’s team showed that their provincial counterpart U16 boys’ gold medal win earlier today was no fluke. BC simply outmuscled a determined Alberta team to pick up top spot in the category. Alberta came to play, getting on the board early on a penalty kick, before giving up a try and then landing a second penalty kick, which put them in the lead again 6-5.
But about half way through the first half British Columbia slowly began taking the upper hand, relying on its size advantage to wear down its opponents on a series of tries including those by Tom MacMaster, Justin Douglas and Walter Yanoying, eventually prevailing 40-16.
“It’s tiring for them hauling down those big guys one at a time,” said British Columbia’s coach Jeff Williams, who cited Jordan Best for his exceptional play in the game and Hayden Evans, the team’s captain, for his leadership ability throughout the tournament.
Williams also credited the province’s excellent development system including its clubs, the high schools and the provincial and regional championship rounds, for British Columbia’s overall success at the national level.
U18 women: Alberta edges out Ontario to take gold
The Alberta U18 girls battled back from two deficits to muscle out Ontario in the gold medal round earlier today. Ontario got out to an early lead on a penalty kick but Alberta quickly responded, then taking a 10-3 lead on a try by Laura Klingenberg and an ensuing conversion. However Alberta, showed why they had made it through the tournament undefeated. They set about battling back slowly but surely, on consecutive tries by Chanelle Edwards-Challenger and Corey Riley and then on an ensuring conversion, eventually taking a 15-10 lead.
Ontario wasn’t done though and battled gamely back to the red zone with several minutes left on the clock. But that’s where they stayed, smothered by an Alberta defence which refused to give ground despite a relentless and systematic pounding delivered by Ontario’s forwards.
“That’s what we have been practicing all year,” said Alberta’s coach Liam Hutchinson proudly. “Today it really paid off big time.”
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