Gaels, Royals claim D4/10 boys’ rugby titles
Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal
FERGUS – The Guelph CVI Green Gaels and Ross Royals split the District 4/10 boys’ rugby championship titles Thursday at Victoria Park in Fergus.
The Gaels scored a try on the final play of the game to keep their D4/10 senior boys’ crown with a 17-13 win over Ross.
“I’d say that was probably one of the best D10 finals,” GCVI coach Gary Robinson said. “It was back and forth all day. Ross are competitors and that was a great game.”
“There was a lot of pressure,” GCVI’s Ben James said. He scored the winning try with a run in on the left side. “I’ve got to give a lot of credit to Sammy Steinhauser. He’s our 10 and he’d drawn the guy out and that made my job easier, but that was exciting. That was easily the closest game of our season so to close it off like that was really exciting.”
The senior final followed a 41-0 win by the Royals over the Gaels in the junior final as the Royals won their sixth consecutive junior championship and 12th in 14 years.
The senior final a back and forth affair with neither team able to keep grasp of the lead. Ross scored first and the Royals were up 7-5 at halftime, but the Gaels collected a try early in the second half to shoot ahead 10-7. The Royals responded with a pair of drop goals to vault back into the lead by a 13-10 count, setting the stage for the winning try for GCVI.
“We said to the boys that we cannot give up the ball, we must maintain possession or the game is over,” Robinson said. “They worked, they were patient and they did what they needed to do. They kept the ball and they came out on the right side.”
“There was no option there,” James said. “I wasn’t really thinking there. I had to just go. Sammy had drawn them in and I just fired through the gap.”
This year’s championship game was similar to last year’s title match that saw the Gaels end a 10-year championship drought with a slim win.
“It was pretty similar,” Robinson said. “Both teams are competitors and they want to win. It was tight.”
“They were very close,” James said. “Last year it was the other way around where we had just scored and they had to come back and they didn’t quite clutch that out. To have the tables flipped there with us coming out on top was quite exciting.”
This year’s match featured teams that were so close in talent that most of the play in the see-saw battle was limited to the midfield area.
“It’s tough to lose in that last dying seconds,” Robinson said. “I’ve been there in other situations and it’s a tough way to go. Hats off to Ross. They played an excellent game. They got lucky in the last one (a 14-12 win for Ross during the regular season) and we got lucky in this one.”
While the Gaels and Royals were rivals in the D4/10 final, soon they’ll be teammates.
“A lot of them play club rugby,” Robinson said. “A lot of them play (Guelph) Redcoats together. There’s a nice camaraderie between the guys. At the end of the day, in a couple of weeks they’ll all be on the same team and they can all work together again.”
The Gaels move on to the CWOSSA championship tournament at Brantford Wednesday and Thursday. They’ll be in a pool with Owen Sound DSS and Brantford CI while the other pool will have Kitchener St. Mary’s, St. John’s College of Brantford and Waterloo CI.
This one wasn’t close as Ross dominated.
“The guys came out really hard,” Ross coach Ron Docksteader said. “Right from step 1, they wanted to play as a team, they wanted to play aggressive and they wanted to go right through and bring back their trophy they feel is in the rightful place.”
Ross had defeated the Gaels 22-5 in league play May 10, but haven’t yielded a point since then.
“Every single one of them from Grade 9 to Grade 10 was looking forward to this,” Docksteader said. “This was their goal the whole year. There’s nothing that was going to stop them from coming here. They’re just a great group of guys that were proud to be here and represent the school.”
Darin Sinclair and Bradley Mcleod each scored two tries for the Royals while Noah Sabourin, Oscar Stribopolous and Malcolm Currie scored one apiece and Mitchell Penner kicked three converts.
“They really wanted to come out and show that they were a much better team than they had shown the last couple of weeks,” Docksteader said. “They knew it was going to be stiff competition and they showed up and played the entire game.”
The Royals advance to next week’s CWOSSA AAA championship tournament at Brantford where they’ll be in a pool with Brantford CI and Waterloo CI. Kitchener St. Mary’s, St. John’s College of Brantford and Waterloo’s Sir John A. Macdonald will compete in the other pool.
“I’m expecting some really tough competition,” Docksteader said. “You want it to be tougher and you want the guys to be challenged. The ultimate goal is to have rugby grow and become more of a commonplace sport and have people accept it.”