March 25th & 26th 2017
Morven Park, Leesburg VA -- Sask Rugby entered a U18 Boys Representative Team into the annual Maryland Youth Rugby Festival consisting of 41 teams spanning the USA and Canada, this event laid host to over 1,000 players from middle school to college. Included in that was 12 girl’s teams which was a spectacular advert for Women’s rugby and the standard was superb.
Sask Rugby opened up their campaign on Saturday with an 11am kick off against Prince William County of Virginia, this team is ranked very highly in the national high school division and looked to post a stiff challenge. A fabulous performance from the Prairie boys and were up 10-0 with only 90 seconds to go in the game. Unfortunately, a couple of lapses in concentration cost 2 late tries and with the opponents converting the last kick of the game, a sure-fire win turned into a heart-breaking loss in a dominant performance, Sask fell 10-12.
Game 2 on the Saturday was rearranged and instead of Sask playing their new-found friends from Virginia Beach, they were pitted against Fort Hunt from Virginia whose program (so I was told) ranks number 2 in the country. This was not going to be easy.
The Sask boys came out still a little rattled from the earlier defeat and it showed with a strew of missed tackles and lack of energy. A first half to forget turned into a much better performance in the second but Sask were unable to capitalise on chances and the clinical finishing was lacking.
The game finished 0-17 and one the day, the better team won.
On the Sunday, our friends at Virginia Beach were short a few players for game and asked if any of the Sask players would like to join them, it was also a game against Fort Hunt so the Sask players were looking for redemption and there was no shortage of volunteers. all 24 hands went up and 8 went on to help them.
With the help of the Sask players Virginia Beach went on to defeat Fort Hunt convincingly, retribution had been earned and even Sask Rugby’s, Devin Miller, got one of the tries.
The final Sask game was against the Maryland Exiles, the hosts of the tournament. A very large and intimidating team who had finished the first day, with a 1-1 record.
Team Sask would stand up to this challenge with incredible intensity and technical ability, everything that had been missing from the first 2 games was present this time, the defence were a solid wall, refusing to let anything through no matter how big they were, the attack was expansive and evasive, all mixed in with good hands and kicking opportunities resulted in a 53-0 victory! Sask opened up the gaps, took advantage of mistakes from the opposition and were clinical when finishing. This looked like a team that had been playing together for years and in the same system for even longer. Truth be told, this was a team that had never played together, also had not played outside let alone a rugby game since July and only had their first practice together 48 hours prior to this game. The pure talent, tactical knowledge and desire to win coupled with winter training and trust, were the reasons for the great performances they put in this weekend.
It was a very organised and well run event, one that I would not hesitate to return to. Team Sask are now looking forward to the high school season and preparing to build on this performance at the National Festival in August…
Go Sask Go!