2018 Gobbler Tournament – Post Tournament Review
The return of the Gobbler for 2018 was welcomed by those who opted to come out. After a one year hiatus "The Crippler" had a brand new 1 day, 10 player format. With the new structure and the schedule interruption it was secretly hoped by many that The Gobbler Curse may be at an end.
It seems obvious to many, going back several years that someone gets badly enough injured as to miss significant playing time in the regular season. If you believe in curses, that is. An eager bunch showed up and battled hard, as hard as necessary that is, when at least one game was settled in a victorious boat race. The boys played their hearts out and finished 1st non-winner (2nd place). Congrats to all those who turned out and condolences to Tyler 'McConaughey' Johnson (lower body injury) & new Beaver from the Rowers and first player-to-be-named-later in the thus far lopsided James Kelly trade, Andrew ____Newfie___(upper body injury) who sustained fractured ribs, which he says, "were nearly broken". Both players will miss at least one game due to their injuries and the curse has been further propagated. As it is the Beavers duty to support a fellow FRVU club The Gobbler, which Surrey has gone to since its inception as a top level international invitational event in the 1980s (and won twice) as well as its revised format as a social weekend (also having won a number of times including 4 years consecutive).
The carnage of the Gobbler was confined to a single day. The club will need to elect an entity to conduct a semi-voodoo ritual on the Abbotsford grounds on the last full moon before the next Gobbler. Research into this ceremony has found that the blood sacrifice is optional as in-game nose bleeds and blood from cuts both count, who knew. The rest involves the full moon, midnight, and a couple of incantations. Easy.
As if that wasn't enough for a long weekend, the inevitable Thanksgiving turkey coma kicked into full gear for many the next day, including the holiday Monday. Tuesday brought us abruptly back to work and training. A very challenging week was ahead. The gauntlet was again laid down by the BCRU schedule maker by dividing the club with the Firsts making another trip to 'the rock' (unavoidable when 2 of the 6 team 1st Division is on the Island) to play Cowichan, while the Thirds invaded Klahanie Park to take on the Capilanos at their Breast Cancer Awareness Day. The seconds had a bye, a bye which actually somewhat accommodated the intense travel.
SBAA 3rd Division Men vs Capilano RFC – Loss 46-7
The 'Bryan "Smarty" Smart'-less Thirsty Thirds arrived at Klahanie Park in dribs & drabs. This always is a hard venue to have people arrive on time for reasons like, bridges, freeway traffic, and many many seniors in North Vancouver. At kick off 19 Beavers had assembled a huge improvement from 15 in Squamish 3 weeks and 14 at Kats 2 weeks prior. The pink socks were donned and the match was on in the main stadium, a rare treat for 3rds.
The game itself played out with a script written by the Caps. The home side were on the front foot immediately as their quick rucking, hard running, hit and dish game plan gave the Beavs all they could handle early on, exactly as Kats had done 2 weeks ago in the last game. Surrey was able to collect itself and mount some offence with hard running by helpers Cam 'holy crap am I hungover' McMurchy-Barber, Joey Murphy, Adam Van Niekerk, and Ken Magtoto, but a hard counter rucking/poaching Cap’s pack was able to kill most of Surrey's drives and often successfully counter attacked, gaining huge chunks of territory before being tracked down by the backs, who must have the highest tackles per game stats in Western Canada. Captain Shane Ram lasted 15 minutes before hurting his heavily taped, injured right hand. Nate Hutchinson stepped in at 9, with prop Jason Leigh taking on the skip' duties. Surrey did mount a sustained period of play and veteran Robbie Sisson planted the visitors only major of the day. Nate Hutch' stepped up with his unorthodox kicking style and slotted another difficult conversion from the left side of the park. That would be all the Beaver scoring for the day. The Caps managed 5 tries in the first half and with 3 conversions the score was 31-7.
The second half was a lot more balanced with Surrey knocking on the door with the home team defence denying each time. The 3s played a lot more stoutly without the ball also, only allowing 3 unconverted tries in the corners in the back side of the match. The final score of 46-7 and it was not entirely indicative of the actual play. The backs on the day, Shane Ram, Jordan Sousa, Robbie Sisson, Nate Hutchinson, Spencer Mitchell, Greg Huang, Marshall Catanio, Davis Catanio, and Caleb Visser should each be credited for their tackling, as they were primarily engaged with larger forwards who ran with support. The 3rds hung their hats on playing against the same frantic style as the Kats with holding the Caps to 46 points, instead of the 70 point track meet versus the fore mentioned Kats. The Third Division coaching staff is looking forward to some home games against some teams closer to the club’s own level of play.
Tries: Robbie Sisson(1)
Converts: Nate Hutchinson(1)
SBAA 1st Division Men vs Cowichan RFC – Win 65-0
The as-yet undefeated Firsts, AGAIN, met at the crack of dawn for the trip to Cowichan, which hasn't happened since the 2015-2016 BC Semi-Final on the way to Surrey's birth into the BC First Division Final that season. Road trips are always a struggle to coordinate players, and staff with several modes of transportation, such as cars, ferries, and buses. Full credit to the V.P. Paul Kelly for his detailed itinerary and coordinating the trip with the Piggies on the other end.
Further adding to the festive environment several of the Original Founding Fathers of the SBAA travelled to the game including Doug Wellington, John Christians, Randy Palm and Garth Verbonic, who have been crying for a first-ever Surrey Beaver Rugby Reunion, which would take us Alumni back to the year 1971 and the Valley Ramblers. SBAA President Gord 'Stump' Neilson made the boat ride as well. As if that wasn't enough, Surrey's bus driver was now retired BC and Canada player Guddy Gudmunseth. A big thank you to Guddy, for his playing years and a safe professional bus ride, Cheers!
The trip itself puts players out of their routines and easily disrupts focus from the boys. In warm up a timely and seldom-made speech by star Beaver player Jamie Beaton regrouped the boys, before they took to the dressing room. To further cement the expectations Skipper Paul Kelly set a challenge to his teammates to maintain the large goose egg under the Piggies name on their scoreboard throughout the entire match.
The match began with the usual feeling out period with Beavers doing good things early and going up 3-0 on Beaton's foot, in the first tentative minutes. Quickly after the ensuing kickoff Andrew McIntyre continued his impressive run of form with a massive dash from his own 35 yard line down the sideline, (in a style I am told, very reminiscent of his formerly BC Champion uncle, from the '80s and early '90s). The Beavers led 8-0 after the first 5 minutes. Surrey found themselves dominant in the scrums, a development that had the Cowichan forwards, wheeling the sets to disrupt the oncoming attack. This tactic was effective for Cowichan until Surrey settled in and ended their happy feet. The only real blemish on the day, in the sets, was a penalty for standing up as the Beavs drove Cowichan backwards. With the scrums settled out the 1s dominated the rest of the way on their own ball and stole the majority of Cowichan’s ball. This stability allowed the backs to attack with pace and spread the ball. The 10, 12, 13 combo of Jamie Beaton (Backs Man of the Match for his leadership, kicking, and overall play), Clay Ross (1 try), and Nathaniel Silva (2 tries, 1 convert) continued their furious pace on offence and defence. The only issues for the backs were self-inflicted wounds by erroneous passes and not well timed support runs. This will need to be tidied, as more experienced opposition backs will take full advantage of these self-inflicting errors. Not to be forgotten, winger Reid Gordon had a try also and both him and Brandon Craig and fullback Marcus Tam had stellar games on attack and defense.
The forwards were relentless in tight picks and crashes drawing multiple Cowichan defenders in tight. At times making more work than necessary for themselves the pack was still successful at taking the ball up for hard yards. This caused the home team to take penalties as they fought to get the ball back before it was given to the Beaver backs. Notable forwards included Andrew McIntyre for scoring 3 tries, on a couple of long runs, though being officially only credited with two. Andrew now has a 3 game streak of scoring 2 tries each, huge kudos to his determination and hard work. This performance garnered him Forward Man of The Match as chosen by Cowichan. Well done! Paul "I am NOT James" Kelly displayed a high work rate, regularly carrying the ball into tough opposition and consistently making the gain line, giving the rest of the forwards a solid base and also showing them how easy it is to make tackle. Chris Atkinson, though not the flashy runner in this game was worth mention with his tough steady play, paying the price to make the right move. The work rate of the pack should be well noted, the scrums and line outs were heavily in the Beavs favor as everyone stepped up and executed their role when they were on the pitch.
The 1st half ended with the Beavers up 34-0. The surprisingly sweltering heat in mid-October, and a significant lead, allowed the Beaver Coaches to make multiple changes just after the 2nd half started to keep the veterans healthy. This also gave players on the doorstep a stellar opportunity to make an impression. The bench was emptied and yet the Beavers attack remained very high tempo and the visitors almost doubled the score in next 40 minutes. The stand out development of the trip wound up being the impressive defensive effort. Cowichan found themselves attacking, phase after phase, at times perilously close to the Surrey goal area. The Beavs stood strong and successfully defended the Fort. The club as a whole seeks to improve its defensive performance, this result indicates the players are on the right path.
The game was an absolute team effort and everyone, from the manager, physio, coaches, and players went all in. Full credit should be given to the 15 players out on the pitch, and the bench who all worked their guts out when they got the call in. When the final tally is 65-0, it is certainly difficult to say any one player played especially well, as the score itself indicates that everyone must of had a good match.
A huge thankyou to the Piggies club for being such fantastic hosts post-match on Saturday. Also thank you for the welcome reception and safe trip to and from the ferry terminal on their very own club bus. The Beavs hung around well after the match and enjoyed some delicious chilli and refreshments. It was a great day for club rugby.
Tries: Andrew McIntyre(2), Nathaniel Silva(2), Reid Gordon(1), Clay Ross(1), Dylan Tatomir(1), Iain Small(1), John Eadie(1), Ty Robertson(1)
Converts: Jamie Beaton(5), Nathaniel Silva(1)
Penalty Kicks: Jamie Beaton(1)
The Beavers next challenge will be two-fold, first the club will have 3 games at home, Sullivan Park, on October 20, 2018, with the Thirds hosting the Chilliwack RFC at 11:15AM, the Seconds greet United RC at 12:45PM, and the Firsts also face United RC at 2:30PM. The second task is the 7th Annual Ruck For The Cure and raising awareness and money for breast cancer and all cancers.
On a personal note. I am so proud of the tremendous level of social consciousness in our club and the incredible work done by our members. It is unthinkable that our club was able to raise $95,000 over the last 6 years, especially when 10% of that number would have been considered outstanding. We, I'm sure, all have a connection to someone that has had direct experience with some form of cancer. Many of us have lost loved ones to this scourge disease. The Beaver involvement started with the passing of Past President Rob Brown's mother, Jeanette Brown. Just to name a few, since then some club members have had a full on personal experience with cancers, including active players Matt Bose, Andrew McIntyre, and recently Treasurer Curtis Fediuk, and even myself the club scribe.
The club has assisted members during treatment both spiritually and very importantly financially, as cancer and treatment will cause a loss of work income to those afflicted. The club has made massive donations to research, prevention, and a cure. I personally wish to thank all of those members who have selflessly worked for our cause, against cancers. I heartily encourage anyone available to come to the games and to the clubhouse. I further encourage talking to someone who has walked in those shoes and be as generous as possible in jersey bidding and the silent auction. I am reminded of the words of Nick Bruce who said in a previous Ruck for the Cure game pre-game dressing room chat:
We are healthy and at the peak of our abilities, we have people relying on us, we can't rest in this game, cancer patients don't get to rest, they can't take time off from their disease, so every time you get tired and are looking for the next breath, think of those who don't have the choice.
Support those who don't have a choice.
The club is looking forward to a great turn out on Saturday.
Just trying to capture the spirit of the thing....