Rugby Titans of South Kam to host Mariners
After a two-year hiatus, the South Kamloops Titans are set to make their return to the B.C. High School Rugby AAA Provincial Championship.
The Titans will meet the Earl Marriott Mariners at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 28, at the Kamloops Rugby Club.
“We had a good solid squad this year and a nice group of Grade 11s that came up from the junior program last year,” said Dan Rohl, a co-coach with the Titans.
“We have a significant amount of depth. I can put any player in at any time and not feel worried.”
The Titans, who went undefeated throughout the regular season, lost 15-8 to Kelowna in the Okanagan Valley final on Thursday, May 19, in Kamloops.
It was the second year in a row South Kam failed to beat their Interior rivals in the Okanagan championship.
South Kam dropped into the 12th seed for provincials, leaving them to face the Fraser Valley champion Mariners, who are the fifth-seeded squad in the province.
Rohl said the Titans will be playing the same game that brought them this far when Marriott rolls into town.
“Our strength lies in our physicality and hard hitting,” said Rohl, who’s stable of co-coaches includes Scott Barker and Erin Ferguson.
“Our forwards tend to tenderize the other team and provide our backs with opportunity later, which they’ve been doing a good job of capitalizing on.”
One of those backs is inside centre Isaac Kaay, one of the Titans’ captains, who is getting his first and only shot at a provincial high school title.
“I’ve never been to provincials, so it means a lot,” said Kaay, whose squad ended the NorKam Saints’ playoff run in an Okanagan semifinal.
“It’s the last year for most of us, so we’re trying to give it as much as we can for the last bit of the season.”
Marriott head coach Adam Roberts, under whom the Mariners have enjoyed a rugby renaissance in the last five years, is well aware of the Titans’ crash-and-bang style of play.
“All I know is that they are a big physical team and they like to play and use that to their advantage,” Roberts said.
“Our boys have to be ready for a physical test and hopefully keep the ball away from their big boys.”
Marriott, a South Surrey school, knocked off Yale of Abbotsford last week to clinch its third-straight Valley championship.
The Mariners lost in a provincial semifinal two years ago and Roberts is hoping his squad can surpass that high-water mark this season.
After the first round of the provincial tournament — a 16-team, single-knockout affair — the action will move to Rotary Stadium in Abbotsford, where the remaining three rounds will be played on June 1, June 2 and June 4.
Kaay and the Titans will be hard-pressed to top the Mariners and reach the later rounds, but they are up for the challenge.
“It’s the biggest test of the year for us,” Kaay said.
“This is pretty big for the school.”