If the Ontario Blues hope to clinch a fourth consecutive Canadian Rugby Championship title, it will require a bonus-point victory over the Atlantic Rock in St. John’s, N.L. on Saturday afternoon.
Anything less than a five-point performance by Ontario in their final match of the season will result in the Prairie Wolf Pack claiming their first-ever MacTier Cup.
After the Wolf Pack (5-1) concluded their six-match CRC season with a 29-26 victory over the Blues last Sunday in Peterborough, the Prairie side currently hold a four-point lead over Ontario (4-1) in the tournament standings, though Ontario still has one final match to play.
Rugby Canada confirmed mid-week that the tournament’s initial tiebreaker would be based on points differential: through six matches, the Wolf Pack have a points difference of +95, while the Blues stand at +59 through five games.
Based on tiebreak protocol, if the Blues win on Saturday, but fail to attain the bonus point for scoring four or more tries, the two sides would be tied atop the tournament standings with 23 points apiece. From there, it would be extremely likely that the Wolf Pack would win the MacTier Cup based on superior points differential.
“Tiebreak or no tiebreak, we were always planning on heading into St. John’s with a goal of winning with a bonus point, so the gameplan has not changed,” said Blues head coach Chris Silverthorn. “The Rock are always a tough team to face, especially at home, so we’re going to have to produce a special performance if we want to return home with the MacTier Cup.”
Silverthorn has made just two changes to his squad that fell to the Wolf Pack last Sunday. John Moonlight and Jamie Mackenzie will miss the CRC finale due to national team commitments, so Silverthorn has selected Toronto Scottish’s Tim Richardson and London St. George’s Joshua Campbell to step in.
Silverthorn has also made three updates to his starting lineup, with veteran lock Scott Dunham, teenage flanker Lucas Rumball, and reliable scrum-half Andrew Ferguson all tapped to begin Saturday’s match. The trio appeared from the bench in last Sunday’s defeat.
The Atlantic Rock (0-5) will be looking to avoid a winless season on Saturday, after enduring five straight defeats to open their campaign. In this season’s reverse fixture, the Rock fell 20-11 to the Blues in a scrappy, rain-soaked affair on Aug. 16 in Ottawa.
Canadian Rugby Championship Standings
1. Prairie Wolf Pack (5-1-0; 23pts)
2. Ontario Blues (4-1-0; 19pts)
3. British Columbia Bears (2-4-0; 10pts)
4. Atlantic Rock (0-5-0; 1pt)
Ontario Blues Squad vs. Atlantic Rock – Name (Club)
1. Tom Dolezel (London St. George’s)
2. Ray Barkwill (Niagara Wasps)
3. Doug Wooldridge (Lindsay RFC)
4. Hank McQueen (Balmy Beach)
5. Scott Dunham (Balmy Beach)
6. Lucas Rumball (Balmy Beach)
7. Alistair Clark (Bay Street RFC)
8. Seb Pearson (London St. George’s)
9. Andrew Ferguson (Oakville Crusaders)
10. Shawn Windsor (Stoney Creek)
11. Dan Moor (Balmy Beach)
12. Derek Daypuck (London St. George’s), Captain
13. Jordan Wilson-Ross (Barrie RFC)
14. Jake Webster (Lindsay RFC)
15. Rich Lebel (Waterloo County)
16. Judson Rowbotham (Lindsay RFC)
17. Rob Brouwer (Lindsay RFC)
18. Jacob Rumball (Balmy Beach)
19. Haddon Murray (Balmy Beach)
20. Tim Richardson (Toronto Scottish)
21. Joshua Campbell (London St. George’s)
22. Jesse Lofthouse (Markham Irish)
23. Dan Mathie (Oakville Crusaders)
Ontario Blues Team Staff
Chris Silverthorn – Head Coach
Paul Connelly – Assistant Coach
Paul Ambrose – Scrum Coach
Mark Winokur – Manager
Rodin Lozada – Performance Analyst
Chris Kelly – Athletic Therapist
Dr. Chris Gallimore – Team Doctor
Ontario Blues 2014 CRC Match Schedule:
ATLANTIC ROCK 11 @ ONTARIO BLUES 20
Saturday, August 16, 2014
Kick off: 4:30 p.m.
Twin Elm Rugby Park, Ottawa, Ont.
ONTARIO BLUES 28 @ PRAIRIE WOLF PACK 3
Thursday, September 4, 2014
Kick off: 8:30 p.m.
Ellerslie Rugby Park, Edmonton, Alta.
ONTARIO BLUES 30 @ BRITISH COLUMBIA BEARS 20
Sunday, September 7, 2014
Kick off: 4:00 p.m.
Klahanie Park, Vancouver, B.C.
BRITISH COLUMBIA BEARS 11 @ ONTARIO BLUES 29 (RECHARGE WITH MILK CUP)
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Kick off: 8:00 p.m.
Alumni Stadium, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ont.
PRAIRIE WOLF PACK 29 @ ONTARIO BLUES 26
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Kick off: 1:00 p.m.
Nicholls Oval Park, Peterborough, Ont.
ONTARIO BLUES @ ATLANTIC ROCK
Saturday, September 27, 2014
Kick off: 1:30 p.m.
Swilers Rugby Complex, St. John’s, N.L.