It’s challenging to write down exactly how satisfying this season was as a whole for the Beaver faithful. The Beavers came so very close in the dying moments of the BC 1st Division final on April 30th to complete the Cinderella story this season.
Nevertheless the Surrey rugby club proved that day to the BC Rugby world that the Beavers are alive and well. Even though the Beavers came up short in the BC 1st Division final and heartbreak was the feeling the club members felt on the final whistle that feeling of disappointment is not an accurate reflection of the club’s success throughout this season.
This season the men’s program collected a U-20 BC Championship, 2nd Division had a BC semi-final finish, and 1st Division lost a heartbreaker in overtime to Abbotsford RFC in the BC Championship game. And to put this season’s success in perspective all we have to do is look at the Beavers recent history. Last season (2014-2015) the only Surrey men’s team that qualified for playoffs was the 2nd Division team. That season also saw the 1st Division side struggle to find an identity, the 3rd Division side struggled to get players, and the U-20 side did not even exist yet. The 2015-2016 season was the bounce back the Beavers can be really proud of, mostly because the recent success was facilitated within the club itself. Head coach Kevin Taylor believes that next season the club can compete as the top dog in potentially all 4 divisions.
As mentioned earlier the Beavers 3rd Division team had been on life support for the last couple of seasons. 3rds struggled to get new players to replace the veteran players that finally decided to hang up the boots, and the 3rd Division side was finding it hard to field a decent team on most Saturdays. This changed rather quickly after the U-20 team pumped some much needed youth into the club’s 3rd Division roster. And even though the 3rds failed to qualify for playoffs, the Beavers saw their 3rds for the first time in a long time play every game on the schedule in the Spring and compete in the majority of those games. It can be argued that if the Beavers retain the players they had at the end of this season for next season they will have no issue competing in the 3rd Division competition.
The U-20 side was another huge accomplishment that happened in the first half of this season. Senior players James and Paul Kelly were encouraged by a couple rookies from the senior men’s program in the summer of 2015 to put a U-20 side together for the Fall season, and without hesitation the Kelly brothers started building up interest for the team. If the club had foreshadowed the benefit of what a U-20 side can do for a men’s program the Beavers would have done it years ago. The U-20 team essentially broke down the barrier that stops junior rugby players transitioning into the Beavers men’s program. Not only did the U-20 side win a championship in the Fall, but almost a dozen of the 20 plus players that played on that team have become regulars in the men’s 2nd and 3rd division sides. Also with several players that played this last season on the U20 team eligible for next season’s U20 team it’s clear that the Beavers are favorites to defend the BC title.
The club this season also had a huge influx of players that had their first season playing Beavers rugby. New players like Bryce Bard O’Brien, Ryan Godard, and Quentin Flack made huge impacts on the club’s rosters. Players returning from injury and personal matters like Willam Vooys, James Stroud, Victor Tatomir, Derick Haliki, Jordan Debroer, and Shane Ram also helped stiffen up the roster in 3rd and 2nd Division. The Beavers up to the final weeks of the seasons were still getting emails and phone calls from players interested in playing rugby for the club. This certainly bodes well for next season, and the club attempting to field 4 men’s teams.
Taking a look at the most consistent side for the Beavers in their most recent history is the 2nd Division side, and the boys lived up to that reputation this season. The season had started off a little shaky back in the early Fall, and after the first six games of the season no one was exactly certain if the 2nds could qualify for the playoffs this season, but the boys pulled it together. Since the 2010-2011 season the Beavers 2nd Division team has qualified for a playoff spot every year. The turnaround this season was very impressive and was the result of the large turnouts on training nights and the number of players that became available; especially with the U-20 boys filling in. The club added a couple quality starters by November and also had solid impact substitutes to insert into games. These players created competition for almost all starting positions. The higher competition between the players forced the boys to play harder in every position. The 2nd Division team was so close to making it to the BC final and unfortunately lost a tight semi-final game to Abbotsford RFC. The coaches are confident with another season of experience behind them the 2nd Div boys should be right back up at the top of the competition, and again candidates to make it to the BC final.
The 1st Division side had the biggest turn around season in recent history, and their success trickled down the entire club. After failing to get anything more than a decent record in the previous 3 seasons since the 2012 BC championship it seemed only a matter of time until the boys broke through again. The team’s dynamic in 1st Division side was questionable for the previous 3 seasons, but this season was much different. From the get go of the season the players were in a much better place with the coaches and leadership came from the players and not just from the coaches. Positivity filled areas in the team’s dynamic that were previously filled with mistrust and distaste for each other. With almost half the roster turned over since the 2012 championship a lot of the younger club players stepped into roles from veterans who decided to hang up the boots. And at the same time some of the strongest leadership on the team came from veteran players like Jeff Bergunder and Danny Leigh. There was a perfect balance of old and new players on the team this season, and the results worked very well in the Beavers favour. It did take until the 2nd half of the season to really get rolling but the 1st Division side still was confident off the get go of the season that they knew what they were capable of playing, which is great rugby. With the added experience of Clay Ross and Trevor Sear into the roster in January the team became one of the most physical and dangerous teams in the competition. Wrapping up the regular season with 2nd place in the league the boys made it all the way to the BC final. Falling short in overtime to Abbotsford RFC in a game that club President Rob Brown said was the greatest game the club had ever played has left the boys saying why not do it all again next season? The coaches agree that the Beavers 1st Division side is certainly on an upswing and should definitely be one of the teams to beat next season.
Overall the coaches and player coaches worked very well together and there were very few disagreements to be had between them. The coaches know there are still plenty of things they can do better, but accountability has improved dramatically this season. The coaches and players are a really motivated group at this time and will try their best to be better at what they do to prepare each week and to have an even more successful season next year. Not to forget another important piece of the formula of success for this club is the great Executive and awesome club members that help nurture one of the best rugby clubs in BC. So many members have stepped up this year including unsung heroes like team manager Bretsky Craig, and our tireless player’s trainer Robin Ferguson. The Beaverlodge also supplied club members with practically a second home and presently helps support and build the rugby club bigger and better. This is also one of the main reasons how the club turned things around, and it couldn’t have been done without the foundation the clubhouse provides. And of course the growing alumni needs a massive shout out for being such a huge presence at club games and being always present at the Beaverlodge. Not only do the alumni help support the active players for the club they also show the players how important and relevant this club is to a lucky few. In summary this club season was a fantastic one to be a Beaver, and it looks to be the start of something really fun and positive for everyone that is involved.