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Richmond Falls To Abbotsford
Richmond Falls To Abbotsford

Saturday, October 3rd was another glorious day for rugby with the sun out and no sign of rain. Abbotsford RFC  made the trip to King George Park looking to continue their undefeated season in both divisions.

Unfortunately, Richmond was plagued by injuries and further weakened by a handful of players who deserted their playing duties to go spectate the Rugby World Cup in the United Kingdom. Because of these issues, the club was only able to field one side on the day (the 2XV "Blacks" will look to reschedule the game later in the season if possible.)

The 1XV Reds Kickoff was still set for 2:30 and though the game was scheduled to be played at King George Park, infamously known as the “Sandbox” by fans and players, it was actually played on the club's back-up field at Cambie Secondary School across the park from our regular facilities. Despite the delay in the opening of the new field at KGP, we must give kudos to the city of Richmond, who have done some fantastic work on the new playing surface to ensure that the field has grown new grass and will stay a safe playing surface. As fans and pundits surely know, the game of rugby is hard on the turf it's played on and creating a pristine playing surface is no small feat!

Despite the lack of an early game, along with a re-arranged lineup, meant that Richmond was forced out of their routine into a somewhat early warm-up. However, it did have a positive effect on the squad as it meant that Richmond was able to dress a full contingent of 22 players, which they would come to need. With club captain Mike Marquardt out (Hamstring) the side was captained by #10 Blair Knowles, who was filling in for his older brother (Cameron Knowles - Shoulder) as the leader of the offense.

At 2:30, Richmond was set to receive the opening kickoff, the referee made sure that both sides had 15 and tweet went the whistle. Abbotsford and Richmond both sport red and black which was problematic for the first 7 minutes, as the players and referee could not tell the difference at the bottom of rucks, which resulted in both sides bending the laws at the bottom of the pile and taking the chance that the referee would guess incorrectly as to whose hand was whose. At the 8-minute mark Abbotsford made a line break out wide, strung together some phases with their experienced forward pack and crossed the line for the first points in the corner, although the kick was pushed wide, the score showed 5-0 for Abbotsford.

Richmond would be next to find the try line after some back and forth rugby, with hard tackles and tactical kicks displayed by both sides. A kick into Abby’s corner and some hard work by Richmond’s forwards freed up outside center Geoff Girling, who rumbled over the line with a few Abbotsford players hanging off of his 6 ft 7' frame. Girling would finish his own try with a convert and the tally was 7-5 in favour of Richmond.

This would be the only time the RRFC would hold the lead as their ever shrinking lineup became even more fractured over the course of the game. First to go down was experienced inside center Alex Brown who took a knock early in the game, followed by fullback Graham Haigh (making his first 1XV start since the 2011 provincial final against Capilano) who's body has seen better days. By half-time, 2 front rowers, 2 wingers and a scrum half were carted off suffering from a variety of maladies. It was no small feat that our trainer for the day (and alumnus) Dr. Kristian Frantzen, could keep up!

Abbotsford, like any top side, capitalized on the inexperience and out of position RRFC squad by scoring more than enough tries to secure the bonus point win. Their large forward pack, led by returning player Ryan March, and speedy backline led by Trent Bourque were hard to stop. A bright spot came for Richmond in the second half with hard work by the forwards from a line-out resulting in a team try capped off by Ben Drikibau, with Girling hitting the convert, to bring Richmond’s final tally to 14.

Although Abbotsford won the game handily, there were many positives for the RRFC side that are worth a mention. The relentless effort on both sides of the ball, led by Brandon Sims, Jon Findlay (back from a prolonged absence in 2014-15), Paul Gaudreault (back to working full-time in the Lower Mainland) and Captain Blair Knowles, was present right until the final whistle and was nothing short of inspirational. Tyler Sangha (a recent UVIC graduate) playing his first game at #9, (until his metacarpals had a slight rearranging) played superbly. Young and upcoming stars, like Brian Plenert (McRoberts '14) and Anton Metalkinov (McRoberts '13), also earned some valuable experience and did not look out of place.

While the score line was one-sided, the lads will surely take the positives to heart and work on the negatives at training in the coming weeks. With some players returning after following the Canadian side on their winless journey in the UK, coupled with the Thanksgiving break will hopefully see the RRFC return to a healthy 2 team club for the remainder of the first half of the season. Until then, the men will return to the hard work on Tuesday and Thursday nights and try to erase the memory of this 53-14 loss.

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)