A festival of medals on the pitch
Rugby: Foothills athletes win silver, bronze at nationals
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013 06:00 am
An Okotoks rugby player picked the perfect time to score his only try at the national championships earlier this month.
“It was our final match and if we won, we got the silver,” said 16-year-old Jazz Singh. “I played that game on my birthday and I got a try — my only try of the tournament.”
Singh and fellow Holy Trinity Knight/Foothills Lions teammate Kaden Mior were members of the U-16 Team Alberta which won the silver medal at the National Rugby Championship Festival by beating B.C. (2) 35-12 on Aug. 11 in Vancouver.
He got a birthday surprise for the tournament — he would be playing fullback rather than scrum half, where he plays in Okotoks.
“It was a tough adjustment at the start but I started to get one-on-one coaching because I was the only guy in a new position,” Singh said. “I got better as the tournament went on.”
As scrum half, Singh is the quasi-quarterback of the club, telling the players where to go and setting up plays.
“You are more in charge at scrum half,” Singh said. “At fullback, I’m waiting for them to kick and I am the last line of defence. If I miss a tackle they are going to go in to score.”
Alberta missed a few tackles in their festival opener, losing 12-0 to eventual champions BC (1) on Aug. 7.
That would be the only loss they would take in pool play. They would blank both Newfoundland 29-0 and Ontario (2) 17-0 to finish with a 2-1 record and advance into the championship playoff round.
Alberta went 1-1 in the championship round, beating Ontario (1) but losing to BC (1).
The 1-1 record in the playoff round was the same as BC (2), which set up a showdown for silver. Something of which Mior is proud.
“That was the farthest any Team Alberta team has ever gone for this level,” Mior said. “It was a great feeling to actually win to get silver — it was a great feeling when the game was over.”
Mior played second row and he said he held his own.
“I wasn’t outstanding by any means, but I don’t think I ever let our team down,” he said.
“I got to play two or three whole games.”
His defence contributed to the victory over BC (2) to win the silver medal.
“Their no. 8 was running right at me and they were inside our 22,” Mior said. “I was able to stop him dead — he was a big boy.”
Both Mior and Singh said the experience will help them when they return to play for the Foothills Lions and the Holy Trinity Academy Knights next season.
A 2013 Oilfields High School graduate will be carrying some extra luggage when he heads off to an Ontario university in a few weeks.
Branden Powell will be toting a bronze medal from the nationals in Vancouver.
Powell was a no. 8 for Team Alberta which defeated Ontario (2) 6-5 in the Men’s U-18 bronze medal game on Aug. 11.
“It was a nail-biter,” Powell said.
“We won on our two penalty kicks to their one try. Their kicker must have had a bad day. He missed two kicks that would have put them well into the lead.”
Powell was playing no. 8 in the tournament, the same spot he plays when he roams the pitch with Foothills Lions and the Oilfields Drillers. He said he improved with every game in Vancouver.
“My job was to clear out the other team — keep the ball as our ball,” Powell said.
“Our main goal was to keep the pressure on them and to keep our ball ours as much as we did… The first game wasn’t my best game but by the end of the tournament I was playing better.
“I was happy with how I played in our last game.”
Team Alberta went 2-1 in the round-robin, opening with a 54-10 loss to BC (1) before rebounding to edge Quebec 12-10 and Ontario (2) 29-12.
They advanced to the semifinals where Alberta dropped a 14-0 decision to BC (1).
They then beat the Ontario squad for the bronze medal — ending Powell’s youth rugby career.
“I wanted to go last year but I couldn’t go because of injury,” Powell said. “So to make it again this year was great… But the bronze medal game was a grind, it was almost a relief when it was over — especially when we came out on top.”
Powell will now take his rugby prowess to Queen’s University, where the recipient of the Oilfields High School Male Athlete of the Year will study engineering at the school in Kingston, ON.
The Foothills area also had three players on the Team Alberta U-18 women’s team which finished fourth after losing to Quebec 17-14 in the bronze medal game Aug. 11.
The three players were Macai Schneider and Jenna Morrison from Holy Trinity Academy and Cayley’s Shelaine Riehs, who graduates from Highwood High School this week.
For more information about the festival go to www.nationalrugbyfestival.com