It’s easy to miss the Castaway-Wanderers’ rugby clubhouse on Discovery Street, but the historic house was alive on Tuesday night as team members and guests celebrated Canada’s defeat of Tonga in the Rugby World Cup.
Plenty of the Canadian squad, starters and replacements, are either currently members of CW or wore their colours over the past decade.
The sequence of events is loosely retold as thus:
10:05 p.m. Tonga performs Sipi Tau war dance, a ceremonial challenge.
As the camera pans to Canada for their response, it freezes on Jebb Sinclair, a four-year member of the Castaway-Wanderers.
His beard stirs chatter among the voices in the theatre-like seating arrangement.
10:18 p.m. Sinclair scores a try, the first point of the game on the back of an incredible work by DTH Van der Merwe. “YES!” The house crowd is on their feet, some of them right off their feet.
Tonga kicker Kurt Morath misses two penalties in a row. “HA HA,” says a voice, knowing Morath can’t hear him.
James Pritchard converts a penalty kick. 10-0 for Canada.
Tonga scores a try. The mood sours in the room but the first half ends with Canada up 13-7.
In the second half Tonga explodes with a try and penalty conversion, taking a 20-13 lead. The mood is more sour, someone’s feet are tapping the floor.
Grumbly advice from the rugby elders begins to emanate from the corners.
Then Canada’s substitutes kick in. A Connor Trainor power move leads to a try by Aaron Carpenter’s in the 67th-minute.
Then Phil Mackenzie scores his fourth try in four matches off a set play to put Canada up, 23-20 and Pritchard converts.