Sat., Sept. 30th marked the fourth anniversary of the annual Joah Atkinson/Brian Collins Memorial Rugby Match, this year contested by the University of Calgary men’s rugby A-team and the Calgary Saracens.
University of Calgary students, Atkinson and Collins were killed by a speeding mini-van on Sept., 30, 2003. Both were members of the Dinos Rugby Football Club.
The Dinos started slow, but finished with a 38-22 victory. There were numerous distractions before the game–including late players, position confusion, and Dinos distracted by the social side of the event–allowing the Saracens to gain an early lead.
As the game clock moved along, the Dinos managed to pull everything together and come back with good ball retention. Forwards coach Malcolm Gilchrist described the team’s new moves as the best of the season so far.
Teamwork played a major role in bringing the Dinos back, as players spread the ball around, and minimized the amount of individual efforts. Veteran leadership played a part for the Dinos in the comeback. The Dinos broke defensive lines well by hitting the ball at pace while coming through the gaps but weren’t always rewarded for their efforts.
Twice, the ball swung out quick through the back line, putting the wings away and allowed the Dinos to score. Several tries were won splendidly through the forwards’ hard running and good rucking.
A potential score by the Saracens was overturned due to showboating. The ball changed hands to the Dinos and they capitalized with a long run back for a fabulous try.
“Without letting the exterior things distract us, we did basics which helped capitalize on opportunities,” said Gilchrist. “Great individual efforts–as well as backs efforts putting the opposition under immense pressure–forced [the Saracens] to make mistakes in their own end.”
In all, the game provided great experience for the players and allowed the coaches to better evaluate the players. Head coach Simon Chi was greatly impressed with the enthusiasm shown on and off the field, hinting there was still more work to be done.
“[It was a] great day for rugby, weather co-operated, everyone was out,” Chi said. “Getting young guys out [is important.] Win or lose, getting guys out. It was a day for Brian and Joah.”