On this Saturday if you didn't like the weather, just give it a minute and it would change. The sunny, blustery, rainy day was perfect rugby weather if you were a player, however it was a challenge if you were a spectator. Any day Surrey plays 3 games at home against Bayside Sharks RFC, is a great day. In other matters there was the issue of the Onion Shield to be settled.
The Shield is named after Paul "Onion" Iannone a much-loved Beaver who passed far too early. Paul was the life of any where he was. He was a musician, rugby player, and Surrey Firefighter. Your writer had the honor of playing 3rd Division to 1st Division with Paul, including the 1987 BC 2nd Division Championship, which was the first senior men's championship for the Beavers, and back before the Premiership segmented the BC rugby world. In 1987 BC was undisputedly the rugby capital of Canada. 20 of the Rugby Canada 25-man roster played in BC. The BC 2nd Division champions could have beaten any 1st Division team in any other province, and that year would have beaten 4 or 5 of the 10 1st Division teams in BC, making the 1987 Surrey Beavers 2nd Division team one of the top 10 teams in the country. The "Onion" was a huge part of that team. Paul was a flanker or a center, being a hard runner and tackler from his football days, when he played with Kevin Taylor, SBAA Director of Rugby. Paul's brother Mark "Rico" Iannone who was a stand out with the Beavers 1sts and a BC selection. Johnny Iannone was also a gifted athlete playing for the Valley Reps and Semiahmoo RFC, before they merged with Delta RFC to form the Bayside Sharks RFC we see today. Paul coached with Semiahmoo and played a handful of games with his brothers. The natural rivalry between the clubs and the honoring of an awesome club member, who has a shared history, initiated the Onion Shield. The winners of the season series take home the lovely burl wood shield/trophy and the losers bite a raw onion, there are so much more than bragging rights on the line. Paul was a member of the 1991 "Ain't Shaving Til Britain Tour" for Rugby World Cup, where he took a harmonica and came across several guitars. I still have the recording of "Knock, Knock, Knocking on the Clubhouse Door", an alternative version of Bob Dylan's "Knock, Knock, Knocking on Heavens Door" taped at the Furnace Rugby Club in Llanelli (pronounced; clan-eth-ly), Wales. For a large period Paul drove an orange 1964 Chevrolet Impala four door, when everyone else wanted a BMW 3 series, it was another statement of his nonconformist eccentricities. Paul was taken from us much, much too soon and he is missed by everyone who ever knew him.
SBAA 3rd Division Men vs Bayside RFC - Loss 28-13
Surrey won the only meeting of the year in late November between these two teams, which was Surrey's only win of the campaign. Both teams have not had great years and not headed for the play offs everyone knew all bets were off as both sides would be keen to set the tone for the slate of games.
The match opened with good form from the Thirsty Thirds, being in the Sharks end, and when Bayside took a penalty 24 meters from goal they gave Nate Hutchinson a chance to draw first blood. Which he did! 3-0 Surrey in the first minutes. Great start. The game settled down and was played in the center of the park for what seemed like ages before Bayside broke through for the first try of the day. They would use a big run to gain territory and after some ragged play on both ends the Sharks would earn a scrum, win it and score it. The convert was good. 7-3 Bayside. The Sharks were settling in and beginning to take the edge in possession, which they demonstrated with a break through run for another try. The failed convert pumped the lead to 12-3 Sharks. Bayside kept coming and managed their 3rd consecutive try from a 35 yard run through a break in the defense. Another failed convert made the score 17-3 for Bayside. The Beavers would claw back and get close to the Sharks goal. A hasty penalty by Bayside gave Surrey a free shot at goal, which was found wanting. The Beavers wouldn't be denied for too much longer, when Matt Taylor popped a chip/grubber, ran it down despite the competition from a team mate & an opposition player. Matt gathered near the goal line and finished a fine effort. The ensuing convert was wide, 17-8 Bayside. A subsequent high tackle saw Bayside assessed a yellow card. The Sharks were undaunted and managed a try while shorthanded after playing a safe pounding possession game, though again missing the convert. 23-8 for Bayside at the half. The second half would be battled to a stalemate. The kick off went out of bounds, when the resulting scrum occurred the Sharks would ruck all over pitch until they finally scored another try, another stray kick made things 28-8 for Bayside. The sides went back and forth in an evenly matched contest for the bulk the next 30 minutes. When in the final five minutes Surrey put together a ruck and run of their own and capitalized with Sandeep Sekhon diving in for the major. The Beaver convert was missed. The full-time whistle would see a 28-13 win for Bayside, but Surrey was definitely in the competitive game, unlike some of their others this season. Captain Lance Mathers could be proud of the effort given.
Tries: Matt Taylor(1) Sandeep Sekhon(1)
Penalties: Nate Hutchinson(1)
SBAA 2nd Division Men vs Bayside RFC - Loss 51-8
As the score above would indicate this would not have been too much fun to end up on the down side. This track meet started early as Bayside would score a try in the first few minutes on mismatched coverage were the Surrey tight 5 forwards were in the backs covering poorly while the Beaver backs were trying to out-ruck the Shark pack. The missed convert made the early score 5-0 for Bayside. Surrey would answer back a short time later when Brandon 'The Cat' Gatto made a 22 meter penalty on a Bayside indiscretion. 5-3 Sharks. The Beavers managed momentum and drove into Shark territory, until a Surrey turn over and some fine passing by the Bayside backs put another try against the Beavs. The convert hit the upright on the left and fell short. Now, 10-3 Bayside. Surrey once again picked themselves up and began to move forward again, until another turnover from the opposition 22, which was ran back to the Surrey 22 and very nearly scored except for a try saving tackle by Brandon Gatto. Bayside kept up the pressure, but settled for a penalty goal. 13-3 Sharks with Surrey not helping themselves. Once play had restarted a Bayside kick was fielded by the Beaver fullback who was caught with ball in hand and not releasing. The Sharks ran the penalty and would put down another try with a good convert. The 20-3 score didn't yet seem out of control. The pace of the match found the Surrey forwards walking across the park, which led to the above-mentioned mismatches, which was becoming more noticeable. To this end Bayside would take advantage of loose play and poor tackling to score their fourth try. The good convert found Surrey looking up from the bottom of a 27-3 hole they were digging themselves. Just when things seemed darkest a ray of light shone through in the form of James Bailey who would score the Beavers first try on an athletic run. The convert was missed, and the score was adjusted to 27-8 for the Sharks. Before the halftime whistle sounded a Bayside player was assessed a yellow card giving Surrey an opportunity to make up some ground. The second half didn't see the Beavers climb out of their hole, instead the Sharks backfilled the hole with no reply from the 2nds when Surrey gave up more tries. The first try when the Beavers gave up a not releasing penalty which was tapped for Bayside to pick & go to score, good convert, 34-8 Bayside. The Sharks scored again on an 8th man pick, the house shaped forward put the ball in the goal area relatively unchallenged. The convert was shy, 39-8 Bayside and the Sharks were really starting to stretch their legs. A third try of the half was a simple overlap in the corner of the end zone, too many numbers wide. The missed kick found Bayside ahead 44-8 and not much of an answer in reply. The final points of the game came on a hard Sharks run through a bunch of Beavers who were looking like they didn't want to be there anymore. The good convert would make the final score 51-8 for Bayside. Such a result is unfortunate, as no one likes having 50 points hung on them, it is hoped that an episode like this will refocus the side for the upcoming play offs.
Tries: James Bailey(1)
Penalties: Brandon Gatto(1)
SBAA 1st Division Men vs Bayside RFC - Loss 21-13
The intense rivalry between Surrey and Bayside over the years has definitely produced volumes of exciting rugby and on this day, with the Onion Shield on the line, there would be more to come. Surrey pressured from the kick off, got on the front foot, and off to a solid start. Within minutes a desperate penalty by the Sharks gave the Beavers a poke at goal that Jamie Beaton nailed to draw first blood. 3-0 Surrey. The spirited, but not stupid, match soon found more indiscretion by Bayside when they took a yellow card, that expired with no Surrey threat. Soon after Jamie Beaton was assessed a yellow card of his own, however a blessing lay in the fact that Bayside missed the resulting penalty kick and failed to score with the man advantage. The Sharks would put together some offence when they broke a big run and scored a try that was converted, 7-3 Bayside. The Beavers were off their game as the ball was being thrown away a few times, when ill-advised passes where chucked away in despair. Each team would be assessed separate yellow cards, first to Tyler 'McConnaughy" Johnson of Surrey and then to a Bayside forward. The half soon ended. The halftime talk had the boys focusing on the details and execution of our game plan. It must have been effective as the first score of the half was by Jamie Beaton who picked off an errant Bayside pass and ran it back for Surrey's first try, when he kicked his own convert Surrey was back on top, 10-7. Surrey kept coming and forced the Sharks into a penalty, when Beaton made the kick the lead of 13-7 gave the Beavs no comfort as a 6-point lead is vulnerable. Having said that, cue the music..... Surrey had a scrum in the shadow of their own posts and won it, the subsequent play saw a run and not a clearing kick. The ball was turned over and scored for a try. A questionable decision. The good convert gave Bayside the slim lead, 14-13. Things evened out for a period with neither team threatening to score, until the Sharks broke out another run, ended up with a scrum on Beaver turf, and made pick & goes to ramble in their second try of the half. The good convert made the score 21-13 for Bayside, having given up 14 unanswered points and now an 8-point, 2 score, lead. Surrey were trying to find a late burst. The Beavers ran out of time and the match ended at 21-13, the 1sts could certainly hold their heads high even though they soon would have onion breath.
Tries: Jamie Beaton(1)
Penalties: Jamie Beaton(2)