Thursday, September 29, 2011 - Submitted by Patrick McCarry in Vancouver, BC
The inaugural Canadian Rugby Championship player of the year will be shared this season by Josefa Dolesau from British Columbia and Dean Blanks from The Rock. Blanks finished as his sides top-scorer while Dolesau was an attacking menace in each game he played for BC and ran in three tries.
Each of the four sides in the CRC was granted a vote for their best player and a member of the opposition that most impressed this season. Rugby Canada also made a nomination for each team’s stand-out performer. At the end of that process the nominations were added up and Dolesau and Blanks were tied.
While Ontario Blues were the clear winners of the 2011 CRC season, their collective effort made it difficult for opposing coaches to single out one player. Here is a taste of what each of the sides thought of the year’s best performers:
PRAIRIE WOLF PACK:
Col Jeffs (head coach): “Kyle Gilmour was a great leader of the team, especially with the poor preparation we had. He has a good game sense and is very strong at the break down, he is a strong ball Carrier and cover defends very well. Clayton Panga had a fantastic season too.”
“Josefa Dolesau (BC) is a strong and elusive ball runner. Reads the game well and can find a hole in the defence to run at and challenge his opposition. A strong defender too.”
Mark Winokur (manager) & Rob Doyle (head coach):
“Brett Beukeboom, also a lock, great in the air, and was aggressive in defence and was second in the Blues pack in making line breaks. Showed emerging leadership and played every minute of every CRC game.”
“Jon Phelan, lock forward (The Rock). He is big and athletic in the air, disrupted our lineouts in both games and took all his comfortably.”
Kris de Scossa (head coach):
“Eric Wilson was our leader on the pitch and with such a young team during the 2011 season, we definitely benefited from his experience. Eric was often at the forefront of our attack orchestrating the game from the scrum half position. He was our captain and on the one occasion he was unable to play due to injury, we were not the same team without him.”
“Ontario were worthy champions during the 2011 season and one of their main leaders was Steve Piatek. When we played Ontario in week 2, Piatek controlled the game and set the tone with his kicking ability from the number 10 position.”
Rick Graham (manager) & Simon Blanks (head coach):
“Dean Blanks would get our vote as our leading scorer in the CRC,” said Rick Graham. Simon Blanks joked that he would always have a hard time nominating his brother but he was more than happy to go with the consensus of the club.
Simon said, “I completely agree with Braid as best opposing player. He cut us open almost at will and his broken field running was electric.”
PATRICK McCARRY (Rugby Canada)
Prairie Wolf Pack: Christian Wolf. Was a solid performer for the Pack and a regular contributor with the boot. His presence was missed in the one game that he sat out through injury.
BC: Jo Dolesau. An electric operator for BC and one that gave defences nightmares all season. A two-try game against the Pack in Kelowna will long live in the memory.
Blues: Conor McCann. The Blues have unearthed a genuine star in the form of McCann. Can play across the backline and is a strong, direct threat in the backline.
The Rock: Dean Blanks. The Rock’s rock all season and the man who rewarded his team’s exertions with fine kicking in conditions that were often difficult. A wily presence in the backline too.