PRAIRIE WOLF PACK CLAIM FIRST CANADIAN RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP
Wednesday, July 1, 2015 - Submitted by Rugby Canada Communications
(CALGARY, AB) – For the first time in five years, the MacTier Cup won’t have the words “Ontario Blues” engraved on its base.
Ontario’s senior men’s provincial rugby team were denied an unprecedented fifth consecutive national championship on Canada Day, falling to the Prairie Wolf Pack 33-25 in a thrilling Canadian Rugby Championship Final at Calgary Rugby Park.
“It wasn’t our day,” said Blues head coach Chris Silverthorn, after the match. “We were pushing hard for our fifth straight MacTier Cup, and our guys put forward an incredible effort, but full credit goes to the Wolf Pack. They really got into our game, disrupted us when they needed to, and earned their victory in front of their home fans.”
Wednesday’s CRC Final boasted a wealth of Canadian international talent between the two finalists: more than a dozen players involved in the match have been capped at the full Canada, Canada ‘A’, or Canada Sevens level over the past year.
The Wolf Pack were the first team on the scoresheet, with scrumhalf Gordon McRorie notching two penalties in the opening eight minutes to give the host side an early 6-0 lead.
Refusing to remain stagnant, Ontario responded quickly through scrumhalf Andrew Ferguson, who leapt over the line to cap off a five-minute spell of furious Blues pressure.
Trading spells of possession throughout the middle stages of the half, the Wolf Pack regained the lead after capitalizing on an Ontario yellow card; with the man-advantage, centre Mozac Samson touched down underneath the posts to put the Prairie side ahead 13-7. Daypuck notched a penalty just minutes later to cut into the Wolf Pack’s lead, but the hosts struck back for their second try in under ten minutes, with Samson scoring a virtually-identical try to his first to push the Prairies to a 20-10 advantage.
The final scoring play of the opening 40 minutes saw Daypuck hit for a long-range penalty shortly before halftime, cutting Ontario’s deficit to seven points heading into the interval.
The Wolf Pack began the second half as the hungrier of the two sides, and were rewarded for their efforts just eight minutes after the restart, with Samson dotting down for his third try of the match. McRorie connected on a short penalty attempt just minutes later, allowing the Prairies to amass a 17-point lead, their largest advantage of the match.
Sensing urgency, Ontario began to up their tempo, and were able to slice into the Wolf Pack’s lead through substitute scrumhalf Jamie Mackenzie, who bounded over the line after receiving a clever pass from Number 8 Seb Pearson.
Minutes later, the Blues were once again knocking on the Wolf Pack’s door via a five-minute spell of possession deep within the Prairies’ end, though the host side managed to quell the attack.
Against the pace of play, McRorie struck for his fourth penalty of the match through 67 minutes, upping the Wolf Pack’s lead to 33-20.
With ten minutes remaining in the match, the Blues were handed a potential lifeline after Prairie lock Evan Olmstead was issued a yellow card. Despite spirited pressure from the reigning national champions, the Wolf Pack’s defensive line held strong; a well-worked late try in the corner from wing Dan Moor was all the Blues could muster before the sound of the final whistle.
The 33-25 victory marked the Wolf Pack program’s first-ever national championship, putting an end to Ontario’s string of four straight MacTier Cups.
“Not being able to bring the MacTier Cup back to Ontario stings. There’s nothing our group wanted more,” concluded Silverthorn. “However, when we get past today’s close result and look at the overall outcomes of the tournament, the program is continuing to move in the right direction.”
“We had seven under-23 Canadian-developed players on our roster, including three who started in the Final, and all seven contributed in meaningful ways. Our leadership group continually does an incredible job mentoring our up-and-comers, and this young core will only grow stronger as a result. When we look to the program’s future, there’s no doubt the Blues will continue to be a very strong side for many years to come.”
Earlier in the day, the British Columbia Bears edged the Atlantic Rock 31-30 to claim a third-place finish at the CRC, matching their result from last year’s campaign.
The Blues will cap off their 2015 season with an international friendly against the American Rugby Premiership Selects on Aug. 22. The match will follow Canada’s pre-World Cup clash against USA at Ottawa’s Twin Elm Rugby Park.
2015 Canadian Rugby Championship Standings
1. Prairie Wolf Pack 2. Ontario Blues 3. British Columbia Bears 4. Atlantic Rock
Ontario Blues Score Report
Tries: A. Ferguson (15), J. Mackenzie (58), D. Moor (80) Conversions: D. Daypuck 2 (16, 59) Penalties: D. Daypuck 2 (29, 35)
Prairie Wolf Pack Score Report
Tries: M. Samson 3 (26, 33, 48) Conversions: G. McRorie 3 (27, 34, 49) Penalties: G. McRorie 4 (3, 8, 53, 67)
Ontario Blues Squad vs. Prairie Wolf Pack – Name (Club)
1. Rob Brouwer (Lindsay RFC) 2. Ray Barkwill (Niagara Wasps) 3. Doug Wooldridge (Lindsay RFC) 4. Mike Sheppard (Brampton Beavers) 5. Hank McQueen (Balmy Beach) 6. Aaron Carpenter (Brantford Harlequins/Cornish Pirates) 7. Lucas Rumball (Balmy Beach) 8. Seb Pearson (London St. George’s) 9. Andrew Ferguson (Oakville Crusaders) 10. Derek Daypuck (London St. George’s), Captain 11. Dan Moor (Balmy Beach) 12. Phil Mackenzie (Oakville Crusaders/Sale Sharks) 13. Jordan Wilson-Ross (Barrie RFC) 14. Jake Webster (Lindsay RFC) 15. Jon West (Aurora Barbarians) 16. Djustice Sears-Duru (Oakville Crusaders) 17. Matt Tierney (Mississauga Blues) 18. Scott Dunham (Balmy Beach) 19. Paul Ciulini (Aurora Barbarians) 20. Alistair Clark (Bay Street RFC) 21. Josh Campbell (London St. George’s) 22. Jamie Mackenzie (Oakville Crusaders) 23. Matt Alexander (Oshawa Vikings)
Ontario Blues Canadian Rugby Championship Program Staff
Chris Silverthorn – Program Head Coach Paul Connelly – Senior Team Assistant Coach Mark Winokur – Program Manager Rodin Lozada – Performance Analyst Chris Kelly – Athletic Therapist
Prairie Wolf Pack Squad vs. Ontario Blues
1. Hubert Buydens 2. Matt Harrison 3. Andrew Tiedemann 4. Chris Long 5. Evan Olmstead 6. Clayton Panga 7. Nanyak Dala 8. Kyle Gilmour, Captain 9. Gordon McRorie 10. Gradyn Bowd 11. Adam Bontus 12. Nick Blevins 13. Mozac Samson 14. Duncan Maguire 15. Carl Pocock 16. Spencer Watkins 17. Clayton Thornber 18. Nick McAuley 19. Ian Huston 20. Lucas Albornoz 21. James Buchanan 22. Dustin MacPherson 23. Graham Turner