Bays Back on Top With Barnard Cup Victory
by Phil Meyer
posted Dec 4 2016
Lew Madley reports that 106 years ago Senator G.H. Barnard, retired player, former mayor of Victoria and past member of the House of Commons, donated The Barnard Cup – for annual play to determine the champion rugby team on Vancouver Island – viewed by many as Canada’s Rugby Home. Reflecting Victoria’s role as the government center for British Columbia, a team called The Surveyors won in the first year – to be followed by The Law Students team in year two. James Bay Athletic Association (JBAA) and Oak Bay Wanderers (now CW) shared the prize in 1913-14, putting their names on the trophy for the first time.
From that season forward, the Barnard Cup has served as a beacon of quality for Canadian rugby – and, until more recent creation of the BC Rugby Union Premier League, each year selected the Vancouver Island Rugby Union top team, to play against the Miller Cup winner from the BC Mainland, in a final game to crown the British Columbia Rugby Champion.
Saturday at mud-spattered MacDonald Park, JBAA powered to an 18 to 10 victory over Castaway Wanderers – the men in Navy Blue’s 56th win in the history of Barnard Cup competition. Games between these old foes are always hard – with determination and high spirit evident on either side. But, looking back at three prior wins over CW this fall – and standing in the cleat marks of some thousand men in Navy Blue who have won the Barnard Cup over prior historic years – JBAA’s 2016 team had a fair expectation of victory – and win they did.
Castaway Wanderers, playing down-field, drew first blood three minutes in – red and black striped pressure – Keaton Styles finishing off – Dobravskey successful with the convert. Play sawing back and forth – D from both sides stopping attack across the mud-strewn turf – slowly, men in Navy Blue building momentum – advancing up-field toward the CW line.
Just past half way in the first, Blue Crush pressure fully on – Ben Johnson, now back in town full time, fulfilling expectations from when he joined the Bays several years ago, crashes into the left corner to score. Now CW 7 – JBAA 5. At 30 minutes, a Dobravskey penalty goal stretches the CW lead again. But Navy Blues continue to advance. As Olde Stars shield our ears – expecting whistle at the half – the JBAA “Canada’s” strike. Phil Mack scooping quickly from a loose scrum – pass to Sean White – Whitey cart-wheeling in to score. Elliot Mitrou, continuing pin point kicking from prior games, slots the convert from the far-left side. JBAA 12 – CW 10: the same score as the finish between these two foes a week before.
Half two skirmishes across the greasy ground pose danger for D on either side. But dominance is JBAA’s – now going down-slope – pinning CW defenders inside their own 40 meter line for much of the time. Mitrou slots another penalty near mid-half – and another 3 minutes on. No other scoring. At the end: JBAA 18 – CW 10: Navy Blue wins now stand at 56.
Congratulations to the men of these historic teams. They will meet again in spring. The Hundred Years + War will carry on.
Photo gallery by Chris Wilson