Online Exclusive: Men’s Rugby Review

The Dinos men’s rugby team wrapped up their domestic season the weekend of Nov. 11 in Vancouver. Unfortunately, no rugby was played because of the rain which ruined the pitches, but that does nothing to damper the fantastic season the Dinos squad had.

This season, the men’s A team played not only universities but also in the Calgary Rugby Union’s fall league and suffered only one loss all year to the Canucks Rugby Football Club 13-12, later avenged on the last day of the season with a 25-10 win. The Dinos compiled a 5-1 record with wins against the Hornets RFC and the Saracens RFC (in the annual Brian Collins Joah Atkinson memorial game), Lethbridge and the University of Alberta.

As the season progressed a number of players fell into their respective roles and contributed to the team to make one of the best squads ever. The center pairing of Ben Walker and Neil Cosco proved extremely destructive for opposition back lines crashing through holes and opening up space for the back three players like Decklun McBride, Chris Storey and Jeff Jarvis.

Key third-year players Andrea Catonni and Chris Harvey led the way with excellent ball distribution and play calling to ensure the Dinos were always on the offensive. Rookie Eric Anders contributed well when called upon and showed why he was a standout in the high school ranks on Vancouver Island.

However, in front of every good back line is a dominant forward pack and the Dinos were no exception. The front row trio of Jason Swanson, Jason Moore and kiwi Zac Burrows found their way in the later part of the season issuing punishment come scrum time. The second row, led by the rookie tandem of Jayme Ulyich and Brian Schillenbourg, was an area where the Dinos had huge depth and brought much needed size and grit and made life miserable for the opposition at line out time. The Dino back row, led by captain Shayne Kuzek, Mitch McLeod, Paul Bregg and Joel Woodfin may have been atypically small but showed how menacing they could be with constant tackles, loose ball running and excellent support play.

The highlight of the season was winning the Alberta University Championship and Brown Jug by defeating the University of Alberta 58-3 in the final.

Head coaches Simon Chi, Todd McBride and John Long are pleased with this year’s performance and find themselves with all but two of the starting 15 returning for next years title defence.

The men’s B team were a very young squad, with an average age of 19, but managed to compile a .500 record of two wins and two losses.

The front row was led by captain Ian Rattan, and proved to be effective in set pieces while doing what was need to ensure clean ball out to the backs. The second row and back row was a mixture of rookie and sophomore players that drew on one another’s experiences to aid each other in stand out performances most notably by rookie Mike McQuilkin, a player who just moved to Canada from Trinidad and Tobago, Josh Schlebach, a player representing Canada on the National Junior side and back-turned-forward Blake Berenger. Lock Pete Davies should have a great rugby future once he heals from his broken leg suffered in the Alberta University Final. These three players made life very easy for the B’s come lineout time winning all their own balls and stealing much of the oppositions.

At scrum half the B’s were fortunate to use the skills of three players. Liam Everett showed his experience and helped out younger players Mike Lawson and rookie Nick Meehan come into their own. Rayner Hart was an excellent leader, field general and provided the team with much needed tactical play at fly half. The center combo of Tyler Olgilvie and Dylan Hill ran ball at pace and were a defensive front for the Dino B’s. The back three was a combo of new and old with all players fighting for spots and each one worthy of starting. Elliot Berenger, first time player Brendan O’Mally and Chris DeSutter provided pace and skill that left defences in shambles. The Pittman brothers put their last few years of club rugby to good use giving the Dinos more experience and a little more hair on their chest.

Coaches James Beck, Malcolm Gilchrist and Wade Belbin had tough choices when selecting starters, as all players were worthy and showed excellent progress throughout the season. Each of these players should be sure to push members of the A team for spots in the 2007 season.

Next stop will be February’s Bangkok International 10’s Rugby Tournament in Bangkok Thailand. A 25 player squad will be traveling across the Pacific for the 2007 tour. The last international tour was in 2003 when the Dinos ventured to England and Wales during the annual Six Nations competition in February.


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