RUGBY: Oak Bay, SMUS set rugby bar but Saanich schools closing in

School rugby thriving outside of traditional programs

Claremont's Adrian Gardner grimaces as he pushes a ball out of a scrum during a match against Reynolds during the final Lower Island rugby game of the season held at Claremont. Claremont won 34-19.

Claremont's Adrian Gardner grimaces as he pushes a ball out of a scrum during a match against Reynolds during the final Lower Island rugby game of the season held at Claremont. Claremont won 34-19.

Considering Victoria’s tradition as a competitive rugby hotbed the Claremont Spartans can take added pride in their season as AA/AAA league champions.

Despite losing their challenge game for the AAA provincials to the Cowichan Thunderbirds 40-20 last week, the Spartans, led by the passion of coach Phil Ohl, continued to bolster the game at the school level.

Boys rugby is nothing new to Saanich high schools like Claremont and Reynolds, but the days of playing at par with the region’s top programs are something of the past.

Currently, high school rugby in Victoria belongs to the Oak Bay Barbarians and St. Michaels University Blue Jags. The rivalry between the two is hotly contested and though the ’Barbs were the better side in 2011, the two stand together atop the pyramid of Lower Island school rugby.

And so it will go until someone can close the gap.

This year saw the two Saanich schools improve in their own right. Claremont went 7-0, Reynolds 6-1 in the combined AA and AAA school league with the AAA Spectrum Thunder, Belmont Bulldogs, Stelly’s Stingers, and the AA Victoria Titans, Esquimalt Dockers and up-and-coming Glenlyon Norfolk Gryphons.

SMUS and Oak Bay played a premier level schedule against upper Island and mainland powers such as Shawnigan Lake and Carson Graham (North Vancouver). Their absence from Lower Island league play helped level the competitive field.

And no team benefited more than the Spartans who went undefeated while outscoring opponents 318 to 75. Last year’s AA/AAA league champs, the Reynolds Rogues, didn’t lose until the final regular season game when they fell to the Spartans, 34-19.

That set up a South Island playoff with the fourth-seeded Rogues facing the top seed Barbarians and third-seeded Spartans drawing second-seeded SMUS. Those wins, 38-5 for SMUS and 58-0 for Oak Bay, proved there is still a substantial distance between the pack and the leaders.

Regardless, the Spartans won their fifth consecutive Saanich Cup over the Stelly’s Stingers while battling to a hard fought win against the physical Belmont Bulldogs.

“Claremont also hosted the hugely popular Spartan Scrum Fest and made a rugby tour to the Okangan,” Ohl said.

This summer a core of Claremont’s Grade 12 players are likely to represent the Lower Island at the B.C. Summer Games: Matthew Lilly, Adam Brooker, Cody Gervais, Mitch Macfarlane, Dustin Hamilton, and Chris Ablitt.

And the future is strong with a returning Grade 11 contingent featuring Rhys Prevost, Adam Ravenhill and Daylin Salter, added Ohl.

 

Just Posted

New changes are being proposed to four streets in James Bay to allow better access for cyclists. Residents have until June 11 to provide feedback. (Black Press Media file photo)
New revisions to James Bay bike lanes open for feedback

Routes on Government and Montreal streets planned for 2022

An elderly man having a medical emergency in Mount Douglas Park on May 13 was rescued by firefighters and paramedics with the help of ATVs. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Rescue team uses ATVs get man in medical distress out of Saanich park and to hospital

Cedarhill Road closed as firefighters, paramedics rescue man in Mount Douglas Park

While recovering several items reported stolen from the set of a Netflix movie in early April, West Shore RCMP also seized drugs and drug trafficking items from a Colwood residence last week. (Black Press Media file photo)
Electronics, credit cards taken from Neflix set found in Colwood home

West Shore RCMP seize stolen items, drugs, trafficking materials

Saanich police used a drone to investigate a fatal crash in the 5200-block of West Saanich Road on Feb. 4, 2021. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Police determine speed, impairment not factors in fatal West Saanich Road crash

Driver who died veered across center line into oncoming traffic for unknown reason, police say

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 11

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking on a remote forest road in Naramata on May 10. (Submitted)
Kamloops brothers identified as pair found dead near Penticton

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

Canada’s demo Hornet soars over the Strait of Georgia near Comox. The F-18 demo team is returning to the Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Sgt. Robert Bottrill/DND
F-18 flight demo team returning to Vancouver Island for spring training

The team will be in the Comox Valley area from May 16 to 24

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Bow-legged bear returns to Ladysmith, has an appointment with the vet

Brown Drive Park closed as conservation officers search for her after she returned from relocation

Most Read