The Canadian national team roster is dotted with Blue Jags and Barbs who have played in previous Howard Russell Cup finals. Falling into that category are four of the players with Canada at the Paris Sevens today — Mike Fuailefau and Luke McCloskey out of SMUS and Sean White and Phil Mack out of Oak Bay. The next generation stated its case Thursday in the 2016 Cup final.
With a bit of a twist.
“I would not have dreamed of that score line before the game,” admitted SMUS coach Ian Hyde-Lay, of the 22-point shutout victory.
Earlier this season, Oak Bay handily defeated the Blue Jags 31-10 in the Boot Game, while SMUS needed a late try to edge the Barbs 26-22 in their regular-season meeting.
“But the season ebbs and flows. We’re in better health while Oak Bay has some guys injured,” noted Hyde-Lay.
Oak Bay is the third ranked triple-A team in B.C., while SMUS is ranked No. 2 in the province among double-A schools.
“We keep on rockin’ on . . . we have bigger goals for this season [defending their 2015 provincial double-A championship],” said SMUS captain Jonas Robinson.
“We’re firing on all cylinders right now. We play with a lot of emotion. We have to harness that. It’s a matter of finding that balance of staying composed while playing with a lot of energy.”
Hyde-Lay addressed SMUS’ rugby tradition: “It’s traditionally been The Sport at our school. We’ve had players who try to move the ball, and pitch and catch, which are the skills so critical in the sport as it is played today.”
The senior players help pay it forward, pitching in to help at the Grade 6 and Grade 8 SMUS in-school rugby jamborees held this week.
Meanwhile, Thursday was Lower Island high school rugby finals day at SMUS fields, with all categories being decided. The B.C. double-A fifth-ranked Glenlyon Norfolk Gryphons defeated the provincial triple-A No. 10 Claremont Spartans 51-12 in the Colonel Hodgkins Cup consolation final. The Belmont Bulldogs beat the Reynolds Roadrunners 41-14 in the Community Bowl championship game, while the Edward Milne Wolverines defeated Spectrum 36-18 in the Community Shield final.
The Island playoffs begin Tuesday. That’s when the provincial top-ranked Shawnigan Lake School Stags, winners of six of the past seven B.C. triple-A championships, draw into the mix.
The B.C. championships begin May 25 in Abbotsford.