The Kelowna Crows men’s first division squad roared back from a 16-3 deficit to knock off Richmond 31-28 in the B.C. Rugby Union fall season opener Saturday at Parkinson.
In the first half, under blistering temperatures, Richmond used its larger pack size and strength to drive through the Crows defence to score 16 points.
The only points the Crows could manage came on an impressive 45-meter penalty kick from hooker Richard Brewer.
The second half, it was a much different story as team leader Danny Illichmann entered the game along with winger Joab Campbell.
Illichmann’s intense play infused the crows with much needed energy as the larger Richmond team began to wear down in the heat. Daniel Blasco-Morris, who was a force the entire game was able to put 2 tries into the endzone to put the game within six points with only 10 minutes remaining. 2nd row Chris Hill, who had a strong hard hitting game burst through the Richmond line and scored a try under the post to give kicker Richard Brewer an easy conversion to put the Crows up by one. Five minutes later another hard run by Chris Hill came up just short of the goal line, but prop Jake Illichmann was there in support to push over for the try. Richmond answered with a last minute try, but it was then too late and the Crows came away with the win 31-28.
The Crows second team was not so lucky, as they were soundly defeated 41-5 in a game that was never in doubt.
“We used this second game to test out a number of new players and so our line combinations were not ideal and some players were playing out of position,” said Kelowna coach Rob O’Brien. Despite this a number of players impressed O’Brien, notably new comer James Scott and seasoned veteran Derek Dempsey.
This weekend, the Crows will travel to Surrey.
Senior women’s rugby returned to the Okanagan on a high note as the Kelowna Crows soundly defeated the UBC women 30-10 in B.C. Rugby Women’s Lower Mainland Tier 2 play on Saturday at Parkinson.
The game was played on a hot Okanagan day that reached temperatures of 32 degrees.
The Kelowna team used its superior size and strength to wear down the UBC team. Forwards Natalie King and Serina Swanson were a force to be reckoned with and flanker Isabeau Venables had a number of powerful runs, scoring one try and setting up vetern Jill Richardson in the endzone for an easy score. In the back field Krystle Carpenter, Kristine Slater and Heather Gray each had a number of strong runs that kept the young UBC team on their heels. The result was never in doubt and, despite the heat, the Kelowna women got stronger as the game went on and their confidence grew.
“They are correcting mistakes and adapting their game on the fly, I’m very impressed,” said Kelowna coach John LaBoyne.
This was a particularly impressive win for the Kelowna team as the UBC Vancouver squad is used as a development program for UBC’s CIS team, while the Kelowna team is composed primarily of UBC Okanagan players who aspire to form their own Canada West team.
“This win is a huge one for our future program at UBC Okanagan,” said Rob O’Brien the head coach of the UBC Okanagan rugby program. “Although, I do not want to make too much of a single game, this clearly shows these women are moving in the right direction. I am very proud of these athletes.”
This Saturday, the local women will host the Brit Lions.
Sunny skies and warm Okanagan temperatures welcomed nearly 60 sixty over-40 rugby players to Kelowna for the second half of a home and home series featuring two clubs from Alberta—Calgary and Edmonton—and the local over-40 rugby club, Priest Valley Vicars.
In early July the Vicars ventured to Calgary and played a three-team round robin. The numbers always favor the home side and in Calgary it was the case for them and in Kelowna this trend continued.
The game format was altered somewhat because of the smaller number of players from the Calgary side who made the trip. The three teams began competition in a 10-a-side round robin format. The Vicars were easy victors in both of their matches, outscoring Edmonton four tries to none, and Calgary 3 tries to none. Calgary defeated Edmonton 3-1 in the third and final match.
The format was then altered and featured a full 15 rugby match between the Vicars and a combined Alberta side. This game was played with great intensity and there were a lot of makeshift roles and many players were asked to play out of position. But like rugby in general, players adapt and the game goes on. The local side had the numbers and consequently the fresher legs and this game was played mostly on the Alberta half of the pitch.
Both forward packs were evenly matched and as the game wore on the intensity of play during set pieces continued to escalate, but without incident.
The Vicars had the advantage on the back line and continued to apply pressure to the Alberta side with a constant attach at speed with some good ball handling. At the end of the day, Vicars outscored Alberta four tries to none.
The Priest Valley Vicars next game is Saturday, September 17 against the Victoria Ebbtide. Kickoff is slated for 2:00pm at Parkinson Rec.