Richmond Edges United

Another Saturday and another beautiful day for rugby in Richmond! Thankfully, the club was able to solidify its numbers and put together two solid teams to take on the always formidable United Rugby Club at King George Park. Although Richmond officially had their home opener against Abbotsford earlier in October, this game marked the first match on the newly re-seeded field! As one player from United politely noted near the end of the day, “It sure is a lot less sandy...”

So the field’s first test was passed with many more to come in 2015-16, surely. Damage to the pitch remained minimal with no visible craters - an optimistic outlook for the season ahead!

Aside from the field discussion, Saturday was a day that belonged to the Red and Black. After the Thanksgiving bye, the Blacks stormed onto KGP looking focused from the outset. The roster was outfitted with a combination of eager youth and battle tested veterans. Rookie Thomas Thiessen (making his senior side debut) playing alongside Ironman Captain Tim Ross, who at 51 years of age, was playing for Richmond before young Thomas, and many others were even born!

Richmond started well applying pressure in United territory, earning a penalty shot after United infringed at the ruck. Andrew "Tats" McIntyre missed the freebie, but Richmond got the ball back from the 22-metre drop allowing them to stay in the right end. As a result, Richmond was able to punch their first try over the line - on a barrel roll by wing Jesse Scott. Convert was wide left by McIntyre, allowing United to take the lead (7 to 5) from a well worked try and convert minutes after the re-start.

The insertion of “Micro Machine” Arnold Lam, after an injury to starting #9 Blair Knowles, paid off immediately as he tallied Richmond's second try of the contest through a labyrinth of United defenders. Convert was...missed again by McIntyre, allowing United to draw level with a late penalty. Luckily the deadlock was broken by a crafty manoeuvre only a man of top guile and top grace could pull off! Stand-off Graham Haigh kicked a loose ball from the turf into his own hands, then ran by several startled United defenders who surely were wondering how a man in a ginger-Santa Claus-tribute-suit had managed to invade the pitch! Convert was...wide right by McIntyre; 15-10 at half.

The game proved to be a back and forth affair for the two evenly matched teams. United took the lead from a pair of penalties 16-15 early in the second half, and with discipline lacking on both sides, the tense game ventured towards the naughty for a spell. Both Brandon Sims and Hayden Malcolm received yellow cards from referee Neil Grant. These were matched by a pair of United lads, and all involved found themselves sitting in-goal watching the teams play without them at various points in the half.

Thankfully, Richmond's seconds, the Blacks, were able to shake off the argy-bargy and get back to what they do best: feed the massive centre pairing of Ladislav "Les" Paukov and Andrew "Shanks" McIntyre and allow the mobile forward pack lead by Brian Plenert, Matt McIntyre and Anton Metalnikov to clean things up - creating space for their men outside. Both Sims and McIntyre were the lucky recipients of points from this strategy, scoring a try a-piece underneath the posts. McIntyre made no mistake (twice) from dead-centre, fifteen metres out! The final was 29-16, though the score-line was misleading for how close the contest had been! Nevertheless, the lads tunnelled up for the first division, and the afternoon continued.

As per usual, the clock struck 2:30, and out from the shed came the Reds, looking to get back to their winning ways after last game’s let-down vs. Abbotsford. Richmond's starting fifteen who were to receive the opening kickoff, was (again) a patch-work crew, featuring an abundance of players out of position, double shifting as subs, or simply not on the field due to injuries, school and lethargy. The Reds started well, with Richmond’s large pack rumbling for hard yards very effectively. An interception by the newly released Penticton Harlequin Pati Faoa resulted in a 30 meter scamper before an offload to winger Riley Monahan saw the young winger forced into touch at the 5-meter line.

It was a result of momentum created by the forceful and formidable duo of Jon "The Bear" Findlay and "Bruising" Brandon Sims, that the Reds were able to work the ball repeatedly into United territory. Sustained pressure resulted in the first try of the day for Faoa, just to the right of the posts. Interim kicker, Geoff Girling made no mistake and Richmond led 7-0. Richmond looked to be over the line again shortly after when Girling found a hole, punching through United’s line and showing his pace for 60m towards the line, only to be ruled just in touch.

Because of the called back try, the RRFC's slim lead was short-lived. United found their form and generated a try of their own after some hard running by their inside backs leading to a forward rumbling over the line from a pick-and-go scrum. The kick was pushed wide and Richmond led 7-5. Some handling and kicking errors by Richmond provided ample opportunity for United to increase their lead. The Reds, playing an over-aggressive defensive style (much to Referee Jivan Dhaliwal's’ disdain) were penalized in front of the posts and the United kick was good. History repeated itself (as it so often does!) with five to play. An almost identical infraction, just to the right of the posts, resulted in another easy kick for the talented United bootsman and the score at half was 11-7 for the Tri-Cities visitors in their sharp blue jerseys.

A rousing speech by rookie head-coach Ben Hickey at half time, and some changes in tactics saw Richmond come out in control of the second half. Constant pressure and tantalizing play had the sidelines in a perpetual uproar – Super-fansTracey and Dimayuga, especially, were in full-throated glory! But United had other plans on this Red & Black day, as they proceeded to play 25 minutes of unrelenting defense. It wasn’t until several phases of bashing and crashing that Richmond was able to recognize a mismatch out wide, allowing Pen Drikibau to break the line and score his 4th try, in as many games, under the posts. Again, Girling, tallied the extra two and it was 14-11 Richmond.

With the clock running out Richmond seemed to forget that a standard rugby match is 80-minutes, as the visitors were able to march down the field and from another pick and go around the base of a ruck, took advantage of spotty tackling, driving the ball over the line to regain the lead: 16-14.

But just in time, the RRFC awoke from their self-induced nap for the final push. Some quick tap penalties and hard work by Richmond’s forwards put the ball deep into scoring territory where they earned a scrum. While Richmond's scrums had been shaky all game, their fitness prevailed on this set, as the ball, won quick, was scooped up by Drikibau who did the hard work before offloading to Faoao for his 2nd try of the day. Girling would convert and it was 21-16 with minutes to play.

The ensuing kickoff was taken well by Andrew McIntyre, on as a sub, and Richmond's clock management strategy was being implemented, keeping the ball tight. To everyone’s surprise and amusement, the referee’s beeping watch was heard by the perky young ears of substitute 2nd row Anton Metalikinov, who decided to try and end the game with a swift kick out of bounds. He somehow managed in the process to kick it backwards, nearly to Richmond’s goal line, where it created a brief moment of panic for the home crowd. Unfortunately for United, they had been caught for a penalty by Referee Dhaliwal and the ball was kicked into touch for the final whistle. Richmond had not done it in the prettiest fashion, but they had done it nonetheless! The day was won!

Post-match festivities once again held at the Royal Canadian #291 were fantastic (a good job by the Legion thus far!) and provided a great atmosphere for the lads post-game as they recovered from the day’s bumps and bruises by playing shuffleboard, darts and winning more meat draws than young second division full-back Lindsey Kerr has freezer space for!

Next up, Richmond heads to Crush Crescent to take on long time rivals Langley Rugby Club (who are sitting on an identical 3 and 1 record in the firsts) in what promises to be a high calibre competition.

Thanks again to the referees, and to Heidi Woods who ran the concession with her standard watchful eye, keeping the fan's bellies full of grog!

See you next weekend! Drinks are on Jim Ryan!

Senior Mens Rugby

Days: Tuesday & Thursday (Rain Or Shine)

Time: 7:00 PM

Location: King George Park (Field 2) at 12360 Cambie Rd, Richmond

Contact: Kevin Nielsen (Head Coach - 604.240.6877)

Junior Boys Rugby

Days: Wednesday & Friday

Time: 5:30 PM

Location: South Arm Park (Field 3) at 8880 Williams Rd, Richmond

Contact: Al Smith (Head Coach - 604.928.4037)