A Gift to an Old Foe: Bays Lose to Ravens on Penalty Tap Miscue
by Phil Meyer
The rugby men of James Bay Athletic Association and of UBC Old Boy Ravens have a decades-long record of competing with each other in important games – periodically, in jousts for the Rounsfell Cup – often in league games that matter. So it was Saturday at MacDonald Park. Ravens came to the game undefeated in BCRU Premier League play. The Bays had only one loss.
Until 10 minutes from full time, the game was all Intense D – punctuated, from time to time, by penalty goals. Elliot Mitrou with three – Harjun Gill with one. JBAA up 6 to 3 at the half – then 9 to 3 three quarters of the way through Half Two. The two forward packs fought each other – foot by foot – for ground. The backs kicked for position, and tackled fiercely, keeping each other out of their respective in-goal areas.
Back in the day, rugby on Vancouver Island had a very different look. Promising young players grew into club rugby – were seasoned for a year or two with second teams – then were brought into our senior sides to blossom into full-fledged stars. For the Bays, Connor Braid, Phil Mack, Sean White and Spence Dalziel were among the most recent of these. (In fact, the only youth this writer can remember coming straight into our Premier side was DTH.) Today, with Body Snatchers roaming the land – spiriting young would-be rugby stars away – things are a lot different. Now, if a young guy who “might” turn into a top player appears, we throw him into the deep end of the pool – hold our breath – and while he develops, hope that bad things don’t happen.
On Saturday, this hope proved unrequited. After seventy-three minutes of trench warfare, Ravens, deservedly on top of the league, put on enough pressure to earn a penalty try. This gives them the lead: 10 points to 9. With JBAA playing short a man – and uphill – the Bays’ chances look dire. But the Bays come back. Working foot by foot up the slope – further pressurizing the game - until, with one minute left, Mitrou, one of BCRU’s top kickers, finds himself with a “gimme” penalty kick 35 meters out, dead in front of the Ravens’ posts.
Well, not exactly. While Bays’ Olde Stars giggle and smile along the sidelines, one of JBAA’s young hopefuls grabs the ball and touches it to his boot on attack – negating the chance of the game winning goal. Sean White, seeing what is happening, tries to prevent the penalty tap by tackling his own miscreant - but is a shadow too late. The referee adds to calamity by allowing Raven defenders to tackle the penalty tapper from only three or four meters away.
And so catastrophe strikes. A subsequent desperate JBAA drop goal attempt – blocked by the Ravens – and Aaron McClelland happily scampers (almost) the length of the pitch to add insult to injury – scoring and converting his try as the game sinks into full time. Ravens 17 – Bays 9.
At game end, your writer, and several of the JBAA Brain Trust, scamper off to Bear Mountain – gnashing our teeth – but ready to support Bengj O’Connor, as he is inducted into the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame. Bengj started his playing career with U Vic – then at UBC during Law School – and with our Bays for his final 12 years “boots on turf”. After that, he held almost every rugby Poobah position on Vancouver Island, in BC and in Canada. At the Hall, he joins former Bays’ standouts Tillman Briggs, Hans de Goede, Gary Johnston, the JBAA Rugby Club in the team category – and 200 more sports luminaries, inducted over the years.
As the evening advances (and we have a few drinks) we begin to feel better. Brief remarks from Alex Nelson (Musgamagwx Dzawada’enuwx First Nation) and by Bengj aid our recovery. They remind us of the role that sport plays in providing pure joy during periods of difficulty in our lives – and in giving us a reliable compass to grow into good men. Bays’ Ian Stewart – recently passed – understood that too. And the speakers remind us that some of life’s best outcomes depend on how we react, not to success, but to challenge.
So, on Tuesday, our Bays will return to the practice field - give our young guys who may be struggling a Huddy Huddy – and begin to build our Prems back to “who we are” - ready to return to The Mac this coming Saturday - and face Capilano RFC.
JBAA Premier Reserves 47 – UBCOB Rippers 7.
In the early game, the Bays scored seven trys (6 in the second half) to best UBCOB’s 47 to 7. JBAA s scorers included Thomas Burton (2), Nate Waldmann, Nate Tough, TK Barnes, Brandon Sidu-Scherer, and Elliot Johnson. Johnson went six for seven on converts.
JBAA Sloshes to a 20 – 14 Win at West Shore
by Phil Meyer
posted October 22 2017
Saturday’s Premier game at Juan de Fuca Park was played in incessant rain, occasional mega gusts of wind, and slip-sliding conditions on the greasy grass surface. Furthering interest for the huddled- together spectators – and for those of us few fortunates, cowering under the sparse overhang of the Juan de Fuca clubhouse – were the revolving line-ups for the two competing teams. Westshore Valhallians welcomed Canada A’s Ryan Kotlewski back – as well as Jason Allen, returning from injury. JBAA welcomed Canada Travis Larsen, also back from South America – but could not find their four other Canada A’s reportedly returned from “down south”. Further, Blake Van Heyningen was unavailable, and Connor Braid and Phil Mack were missing – the latter reportedly featured at a BCRU youth training session in Kamloops. Strange scheduling! So, with JBAA’s Paranoia Chorus in full song – this was a game that anyone could win!
The Bays open by pinning Valhallians deep in their own end for eight minutes – culminating in a score in the right corner by Andrew (Puzzler) de Goede – moved from his usual flanker position to the wing, as Coach Rushton struggles to cope with multiple line-up changes. JBAA continues to press, and at 15 minutes, Elliot Mitrou notches a penalty goal to stretch the Navy Blue lead to 8 – 0.
At mid-half, Westshore, led by its forwards, fights back – beginning to wheel the JBAA scrum, and asserting control. At 21 minutes, this display of forwards’ power sets up a Valhallian score – Corey Walker driving over the line – Matt Kemp converting. JBAA 8 – Westshore 7.
But the Bays’ scrummers stabilize. Four minutes from the half, Sean White kicks a ball through behind Westshore defenders – de Goede races to gather it and scores his second. Mitrou misses the convert. Unlike last week – he will struggle with his kicks at goal through much of the remaining game. At the half: Bays 13 – Valhallians 7.
One minute into half two, Nate Waldmann – playing on the other wing in this jury-rigged lineup – dribbles a ball from near mid-field to inches from the Westshore goal – setting up a scrum. Then, Travis Larsen powers over two would-be defenders to score. Mitrou converts – wind and rain notwithstanding. JBAA 20 – Westshore 7.
This game could not be described as pretty. Not much finish – but tackle, tackle, tackle all over the field. Each team threatening from time to time. Valhallian pressure resulting in award of a penalty try just past mid-half. Even old guys can learn stuff if we keep our antenna out – and, to my surprise, I learned that a recent rule change now states that a penalty try no longer results in 5 points and a convert opportunity – but now, a straight seven points award. So the score closes to JBAA 20 – Westshore 14.
Immediately following this try, the Bays’ strongest front rower, Noah Barker, was dinged with a yellow – presenting Valhallians a strong ten-minute chance to win. But they simply couldn’t overcome the Bays’ D – tackle, tackle, tackle, until the final whistle blew.
Westshore Premier Reserve 33 – JBAA 5.
In the early game, a spirited Westshore performance – and loss of some five players moved up to JBAA’s Premier squad – was too much for the Bays to overcome. The bigger Valhallians were faster to the breakdown – led 12-0 at the half – and scored five trys to power to a 33-5 victory. Bays’ sole try was registered mid-way in Half 2 by Jake Slobodian.
Next week, JBAA hosts 1st place UBC Old Boys at MacDonald Park. Westshore will host Seattle.
Bays Take the Sting Out of Hornets: Report by Phil Meyer
October 14th 2017
Saturday under grey skies at MacDonald Park, JBAA, led by Elliot Mitrou (21 points), and by Connor Braid and Graham Harriman (2 tries each), raced away to a nine score 61 – 5 win over Nanaimo Hornets. The contest see-saws for the first 12 minutes – with Hornets giving as good as they received. But at 13 minutes, Braid powers through on a swerving 30 meter run to open the score. Mitrou slots the convert, to give the Bays a 7 – 0 lead.
At mid-half, with JBAA carrying the play, the ball is spun right – then reversed across field, with Harriman crashing in for his first try. At 30 minutes, Braid is back with a 30 meter burst to score his second. Just before the half, Braid cross-kicks to young winger Mitch Sora – “Globetrotter” pass to Mitrou, who touches down for the score. Mitrou makes good on all three converts. At the half: JBAA 28 – Nanaimo 0.
In the second half, the Bays pour in 5 more tries, to one for Hornets. One minute in, Phil Mack gets away on one of his patented short-side bursts, shakes and bakes three would be tacklers, and scores. Mitrou converts. At 45 minutes, Jimmy de Goede bulls 12 meters to the goal, driving a Nanaimo tackler before him. Up to now, Mitrou’s converts have been from close to the middle of the pitch. This one is from wide left. He makes it anyway.
Midway in Half 2, Phil Mack distributes a miss pass wide to Sora, who dives into the right corner. Mitrou converts his 7th - this time from wide right. A minute later, the Blue Crush pushes over Nanaimo’s line – Shea Wakefield, back from an injury-enforced absence, touching down. Mitrou misses the wide-left convert – earning heckles from various Bays’ sideline “experts”.
Near the close, Harriman takes the ball from Phil Mack, Sean White and friends – and scores his second. The Mitrou convert is good – leaving him 8 for 9 on the day.
Overall, BC Rugby News’ prediction of a solid JBAA win was prescient – with the Bays, led by Noah Barker, de Goede and Harriman in the forwards, and Mack, Braid, Meeres, White and Mitrou in the backs, never threatened. That said, the Hornets played spirited and sportsmanlike rugby, and were rewarded with a deserved try from Jared Stevens at 53 minutes. At the end: JBAA 61 – Nanaimo 5.
Nanaimo kept their heads up to the end. Stepping up from Division 1 to Premier play is a huge challenge. But If they continue in the spirit they showed Saturday, this writer believes the Hornets will taste victory somewhere down this season’s rugby road.
JBAA Premier Reserve 43 – Nanaimo 0.
This report is anecdotal – and somewhat incomplete. Your writer has a broken leg – and was forced to come to the game in a wheelchair van. The driver was recently from some other mysterious part of Canada. He had no clue on how to navigate around Victoria – and we arrived at The Mac late. So this report is based on half-remembered dribs and drabs offered by beery others following the game. The first 10 minutes was all Hornets – Bays tackling fiercely to repel their stingers. Then, as it does year after year, Coach Rushton’s system of turning young athletes into ruggers began to show traction. When all was done, the Bays’ front row, led by Kerry Park, Blain Quocksister and Jason Lines – and by Nate Tough, Nate Waldmann, Eddy Adams and Bryan Kelly in the backs, pulled away to a 43-0 win.
Evan Boothroyd scored his first BCRU try. Jake Slobodian got two. Elliot Johnson scored, as did others lost to the memories of my informants. When I asked how many converts Eddy Adams kicked, the answer I got was “lots”.
Young guys who want to play rugby are still thin on the ground in some parts of Victoria – and, following a spate of injuries, the Bays” Ones ended the day playing Nanaimo 13 against 15. But hope is on the way. Many in the JBAA Family have been investing their time - working hard over the past several years to once again see junior ruggers rise – in the Mini’s (Dan Beattie), in age grade (Brad Underwood, Jared Barker), at the Esquimalt Rugby Academy (Tom Woods, Gary Johnston, Dave Moonlight) and with Vancouver Island Thunder (Phil Mack). Two guys who started for JBAA Ones Saturday – Evan Boothroyd and Blain Quocksister – represent the tip of this iceberg. More will follow.
Next Saturday, JBAA travels to Victoria’s West Shore to play Valhallians. Nanaimo plays CW at the House of Windsor.