A glance at the calendar tells us that September is the time to return to our fall and winter routines such as school, work, and trying to keep dry. If summer is over, it is certainly rugby time in BC and your Surrey Beavers have been busy as a….
Preseason training started on August 14 with sporadic attendance of approximately 35+ players and has maintained that level, however it seems it is a different 35+ players at each practice. If everyone came out at once there would have to be 60+ players, which is closer to the club’s real strength.
There is much that is new. Our player/captain/coach James Kelly has moved up to the Premier Division with the Vancouver Rowing Club. The club would like to wish him all the best playing at the top level. This void has led to many solutions being required. The club attempted to hire a coach from overseas, a process that many alumni graciously stood up for. The negotiations were intense and at the end of the day another club had a better situation for the gentleman and his choice was made. Great effort to Vice President Paul Kelly for spearheading that initiative, and establishing a future SBAA Coaching Fund. To that end David Tate, now ex-Richmond RFC, has joined on to mentor our 1sts and 2nds with his 30+ years of rugby experience. Paul Kelly has currently slotted in as club captain, with Kevin Taylor remaining with a seasoned hand on the tiller as the club's new Director of Rugby. Marc Filiatrault also continues senior responsibilities with the likes of Randy Palm, Bryan Smart, Rob Vereilli, Jeff Mitchell, Tom Kennedy and a few other Beaver Alumni that come on by time to time. After many years of service Rob ‘Puppy Dog’ Brown has chosen to step back from his Club President duties and Gord ‘Stump’ Neilsen has picked up the torch. Puppy, thank you for your service and Stump, best wishes and good luck going forward.
There is nothing like the anticipation of the first rugby game of the season, I get chills even now. The day had mixed weather, but warm enough to be a perfect day to play and watch rugby. Having said that the day had a sombre taste with the memorialization of Trent Bourke, known as Bones, who was an Abbotsford union player and a Surrey league player, having won a League Championship with the Beavers in 2014. Trent had started his playing time with Ridge Meadows and he saw no borders when he played the game of rugby with multiple clubs. This day was to remember and celebrate Trent and what better way to remember a rugby man, then on a rugby day. Each of the two men's games had a moment of silence and the 1st Division game was to be the first ‘Trent “Bones” Bourke Memorial Cup’ between the two Fraser Valley clubs.
SBAA 2nd Division Men vs ARFC Div 2 Men - Loss 34-27
The 2s started the day with essentially a 3rd Division line up from last season, save 4 starters (each of whom had 3rd Division minutes last season). The young line up, except for a very old Jason Leigh (who hasn’t yet confirmed his biological age), had a very solid effort and the game was extremely competitive with the flow going back and forth. The 2s made only two critical mistakes all game, with one being a deep kick that was countered by a brilliant run by an Abbotsford back to score a try from 50 yards and a give away in the shadow of the Beaver posts that allowed Abby to punch it over again, both converts were missed. Not to be left behind for a moment the Beavers gathered themselves after some early errors & stage fright jitters. Cam McMurchy was very solid after two early knock ons receiving the first two kick offs of the day. The third he caught and ran down Abby’s throat without looking back, even taking a yellow card for an unintentional crushing of an Abby player who knocked on a kick off reception of his own. As the ball was away, the call by the referee was pretty much a no brainer. Nothing could be done it was a BANG, ok just BANG, play. The Abby player continued the game after some brief attention. The Beaver attack had balance with the front row, flankers, and 9 scoring 5 tries. The converts weren’t from the best angles with the Beavs going 1 for 5 using 3 different kickers. After all was said and done stopping the two great mistakes and/or making all the converts would have ensured victory, the final score 34-27 for Abby. Surrey had the bulk of possession with 77 rucks to 25 for Abby. It was an outstanding outing for a group of player who often hadn't played much rugby together. Lots of new faces in the line up including young starting hooker Trevor Lee, and the young Catonio brothers who have real potential to be studs. With a few more vets coming back in the next few weeks the 2s should get back to taking care of business in Beaver fashion.
Tries: Trevor Lee(1), Joey Murphy(2), Sandeep Sekhon(1), Brandon Craig(1)
Converts: Nate Hutchinson(1)
SBAA 1st Division Men vs ARFC Div 1 Men - Win 30-28
The main event was the 1st Division game with the usual spirited hijinks getting started in the 2s game. Abby had their heavy hearts and were looking to honour their fallen comrade with a big win at home on opening weekend. Surrey was sympathetic as many Beavers knew Trent Bourke and felt his loss also. The game itself was not disappointing. As with the 2s, the 1s had a couple of teething pains during the match. Surrey had an approach of playing good solid fundamental rugby. This line up was chocked full of experience as 13 of the 15 had 1st Division experience previously. The day marked the debut of Brandon Gatto at stand off and Matthaus Smith starting on the wing after being the most improved 3rd Division back at last years awards banquet. This was a battle from the opening kick off, as should be all Abby v Surrey games, going back almost 40 years to the days of your writer. Surrey took advantage of two early Abby penalties taken in their own end and made the home team pay for their mistakes. When it came to tries, Surrey had 3, with each being plays made on the individual basis. The first try came from a well-opportune quick tap penalty from about 10 yards off the try line by John Eadie. The second try was scored by Nathaniel Silva on a slashing run after having been denied twice previously. The last major was punched over on what could only be described as a beast of a run by Clay Ross, who has done this type of thing more often than not. Brandon Gatto, distinguished himself with his play on his debut and going 5 for 5 off the kicking tee, 3 penalties and 2 converts, including from distance and on the angle with 5 minutes left to go ahead by 2 points. The momentum constantly changed hands throughout the match and both teams exploited early season rust. There were some good cracks and big runs for both teams, and some excellent goal-line defense on from both teams. It seemed whatever team was going to put points on the board last would walk away winners on the day.
Surrey then showed something that tremendously impressed the writer, they had the presence of mind and wear-with-all to literally grind out the last 5 minutes. With a tight 2 point lead with under 5 minutes left in the match the plan off the kickoff was to recover and kill the play. The Surrey forwards had lost possession of most of their receiving kick offs throughout the match, Abby put the ball in areas where they could get at it and they did so exceptionally well. With little time on the clock and needing at least a penalty kick to win, Abby inexplicably kicked the ball deep, out kicking their ability to make a play for it. The Surrey pack then consolidated the ball in a ruck and began the process of playing tight ball for the remaining 4 minutes. They secured possession of the ball, with a minimized chance of error, and they frustrated Abby who could do nothing but defend the next ruck. The Beavers ran out the clock in this fashion and nailed the win 30-28, an effort, a fossil such as your writer, would have seen in the early days of the Beavers success and loved to see some old, old school rugby.
After the match the Trent “Bones” Bourke Memorial Cup was presented to skipper Paul Kelly, his comments included thoughts of Trent and the poignant reminder to consider each opportunity to play our great sport as something to be not taken for granted, as you never know when it may be your last. Life itself shouldn’t be taken for granted and we each have to make the most out of each opportunity, live to the fullest, savour the moments, and appreciate those around you. To paraphrase Shakespeare if I might, Every rugby field is a stage, and all the men and women merely players, one man in his time may play many positions, from a schoolboy to over 40’s – to an alumni round of belly, then whistle sounds the last full time.
Tries: John Eadie(1), Nathaniel Silva(1), and Clay Ross(1)
Penalty Kicks: Brandon Gatto(3)
Converts: Brandon Gatto(2)
Your Beavers return to action on September 15, when the 1s will be home to United RC, and the 3rds will host UBC, while the 2s are away at SFU. Come to Sullivan Heights School, rub shoulders with alumni, and watch some rugby.