Ferguson and Sandover-Best head to World University 7s with Rugby Canada
UBC Thunderbirds Sean Ferguson and Jorden Sandover-Best are off to Brazil to represent Canada at the FISU Men's Sevens Championship this weekend.
The tournament, which features Canada alongside Great Britain, Namibia, France, and Japan in Pool B, will be played in San Jose de Campos.
Canada plays Great Britain in their only game on Friday (12:20 p.m. PT), then the other three teams over a span of five hourson Saturday.
The top two teams in each pool will make Sunday's cup quarterfinals.
The tournament is an unconventional format, with nine teams entered. That means Pool A features just four teams: Chinese Taipei, Argentina, Belgium and Brazil.
DAY ONE – August 8, 2014
Canada vs Great Britain at 4:20 pm local time (3:20 pm ET / 12:20 pm PT)
DAY TWO – August 9, 2014
Canada vs Namibia at 11:40 am local time (10:40 am ET / 7:40 am PT)
Canada vs Japan at 2:40 pm local time (1:40 pm ET / 10:40 am PT)
Canada vs France at 4:20 pm local time (3:20 pm ET / 12:20 pm PT)
The Big Weekend
The big weekend is here - UBC's top two squads are in finals, ready to do what they did in 2003 by winning a pair of provincial titles.
With the 1st XV Thunderbirds up against a ready-to-roar Seattle/OPSB lineup and the 2nd XV Braves against the 2nd team from Seattle, it's truly all or nothing for the storied Point Grey program.
"We're more than ready," says UBC head coach Rameses Langston. "The guys want to get at it."
UBC's gone from strength to strength this season, leading in the Okanagan Spring Brewery League 1 from almost wire-to-wire. Only a late-season loss to Seattle knocked them off their perch.
But that's not a bad thing, argues Langston.
"The focus has shifted to this Seattle/OPSB group," he said. "It's not on us. Everyone in B.C. is talking about them."
"We've achieved what we wanted this season. We're satisfied that we've established ourselves as the premier development program in Canada. Trophies, medals, they're just a bonus at this point," he said.
The lessons 2003, how that edition of UBC Rugby managed to win provincial championships in the old 1st and 2nd divisions - a feat commemorated behind the bar in the year-old Gerald McGavin Rugby Centre - is something that the coaching staff has been studying. Now-general manager Spence McTavish was head coach then, and assistants Rod Holloway, Alasdair Hamilton and Heather Miller were too.
On that day, the Braves defeated Langley to kick off the day, before the Birds did their job. McTavish was never one to use his bench much and would rely on players from the Braves to fill the few gaps that would appear. On that day, Braves captain Gord Aiken was called into the fray five minutes in, as flanker Joey Alexis was forced out of the game. Aiken had already played the whole Braves game and would play another 70 minutes for the Birds.
With his squad down a third, is Langston worried about having another 150 minuter?
"It's something we've talked about," he said. "It's something we're going to try and avoid, but there are some guys who are going to give us the best chance to win the first game but have the talent and skill set to come on as an impact player in the second."
"It's going to be difficult [to do a double] because we're so thin. We're going to have guys play in the early game and come off to spare in the later game. It'll be about finding the right place to get guys off the field," he said.
"Good coaching will tell that's not what you want to do, you'd rather have fresh bodies; I wish it was a case of all those bodies, but we don't, so no sense dwelling too much," he said.
And that's why Langston feels the pressure is off his squads, and all on the Seattle lads.
"This Seattle team is chock-a-block with Eagles, they've loaded up," he said. "This is the Super Bowl for them."
"Not many of our guys get Canadian national men's teams looks, and here we are playing a team of Eagles.
"I think it says a lot about our guys."
Just another veteran - Tyrer ready for Sunday start
This is Bryan Tyrer's second go-round. But don't think he's looking at the World Cup with any less excitment.
When Tyrer first arrived on the Point Grey campus a year and a half ago, he'd heard of the annual series vs California, but playing in the actual game - that was something special.
"I'd heard about the tradition - i've grown up with (UBC captain) Alex Kam, I'd heard him always talking about how big the game," he said.
"Being in the game itself, you can feel the emotion and you can see it from the other team," he said.
A year ago, UBC trailed by ten after the first leg and struggled to find a rhythm in the second leg, eventually losing the series by 39 points. It was a humbling day for all involved.
Fast forward a year, and again UBC's trailing after the first leg, this time down by nine. Cal won the first leg 33-24. But the vibe is different. Both teams are facing challenges to their lineups. UBC is missing five key players to the Canada U20 tour of England, while Cal is missing captain Seamus Kelly to USA Eagles duty, plus a handful of injuries.
The question is, which team will have greater depth. If you lean towards UBC, you are making a safe bet. After all, Tyrer, with all his previous experience - BC Premier League for the Meralomas, time with the BC Bears - has been second choice fly half for much of the season. Irishman James Thompson, a former Ulster rep player, was the starter for much of the first half, until he was felled by an ACL injury. Qunton Kelly has been in the mix, but Sunday looks to be Tyrer's day.
The veteran depth has been vital, Tyrer figures.
"It comes from our recruiting in the summer, we've got guys with big experience in their background," he said. "The coaches each bring a different view (head coach Rameses Langston and assistant Curry Hitchborn are both new additions this season) and we've got wiley vets who have voices too - guys like Nate Rees and Ben Grant who've played world class rugby, and James Thompson too, who's been helping with the backs. We've got some great voices."
The stability of the lineup in the first half also allowed for the team to build a pattern of play that's carried them to wins in every game save that first leg against Cal, last month at Berkeley's Witter Field.
"In the first semester there weren't too many changes, but being prepared for every situation was what we learned," Tyrer said.
The fly half also figures that this stability of the team let him slide seemlessly back into the lineup in the first leg.
"I wasn't expecting to get in that soon, but when Q went down, I was ready to go, and felt comfortable to just do my thing," he said.
With a big crowd expected on Sunday, Tyrer says it's going to be motivating, not intimidating.
"I always love big crowds," he said. "Playing for big clubs definitely helped me prepare for last year."
There were more than a thousand at Thunderbird last year and the crowds at Witter are always big too.
"I think playing in front of a bigger crowd, i get more excited," he said. "In Vegas (UBC won the Las Vegas Invitational 7-a-side in January) we had 30,000 people watching our final. "Guys were pumped up by that. I think it definitely raises my game."
March 21, 2014
UBC Rugby set for Cal-Berkeley challenge
They last won the “World” Cup in 2006.
Is this the year?
The annual UBC vs Berkeley rugby match is one of the world’s longest-standing traditions; the rivalry is renewed on Saturday at Berkeley’s Witter Field, on the campus of the University of California.
Call it another measuring stick of where the resurgent UBC varsity program is, says head coach Rameses Langston.
“Our team is looking forward to the challenge of playing against such a dominant rugby program. They are champions for a reason,” he said.
UBC’s taken on all comers so far this season and overcome them all – but this is a whole other question. The Bears are the US’s preeminent rugby program and have been for years. Their budget is unparalleled in North America.
So it comes down to UBC’s midfield x-factor. Both Nate Rees and Ben Grant have been outright dominant more than once this season. UBC’s got a solid forward pack, who always compete well against the Bears. It’s been in the backs where they’ve struggled.
Add in the return of Brock Staller on the wing from injury and Sean Ferguson at fullback from Canada Sevens duties and you’ve got an exciting backline. And that’s without mentioning the return of the underrated Bryan Tyrer.
Should be an exciting showdown.
February 14, 2014
Harry Jones talks Las Vegas
UBC Alum Harry Jones, in his own words, shares with us the excitement of sevens, as he prepares to play for Canada in Las Vegas...
The build up to a sevens tournament is always very exciting, although the actual work starts many weeks or months before you actually step off that plane, it really sets in once you arrive at the actual tournament. The first several days in the week leading up to the tournament is all about fine tuning various skills and also having a few hit ups against some of the other teams in the tournament. I always enjoy getting a bit of a blowout early in the week against other teams because it sets a high standard of where we want our game to be at, and it also gets us playing some high paced footy.
Once we start getting a bit closer to the start of the tournament things usually slow down a little bit, still going through our skills and game plan, but usually at a slower pace to make sure we are full of energy for game day. When game day finally rolls around, there is no better feeling than pulling that maple leaf over your chest and running out in front of a packed stadium! The Vegas tournament is a little bit different because we are so close to home, and we know that there will be lots of family and friends supporting us throughout the tournament. I always consider myself very lucky and honored to represent my friends, family, and country. When that whistle goes to start the game, the fun really gets going and before you know it you are already preparing for the next game. That's the great thing about sevens, there are so many games with differing styles in each, keeping the crowd excited throughout the day. Any team can win, and I am fully confident that we can beat anyone on the circuit, that is why I love this game so much!
January 21, 2014
UBC seizes Wightman Boot back from UVic, as 22-8 win at Wolfson seals series
It took 18 years, but the Thunderbirds have finally regained the Wightman Boot.
Many have tried, but it's the 2013-14 edition of the blue and gold who had the right approach. The Point Grey boys did what was needed, knocking off UVic 22-8 on Saturday, in front of 500 boisterous supporters.
Two tries from full back Francois du Toit and a rampaging single from Eric Hunter-James were more than enough for the home side to overcome their cross-Georgia Strait rivals, who managed just a try from Luke Campbell and penalty kick by Fergus Hall. UBC's Quinton Wilms nailed two conversions and a penalty to round out the scoring.
UBC came into the January leg of the Boot Series leading 29-16, having seized the initiative early on in the first leg game in Victoria in October.
UBC's approach all season has been about physical play, co-ordinated defence and attacking ambition. All three were in evidence, especially in the spirited opening half, when UBC ran in all three tries, seizing control of the game and the series.
"Our physical play was vital," said head coach Rameses Langston.
"I really want to recognize the work of my assistant coach Curry Langston and the strength and condition support from Joe MacCullum of Level 10 Fitness for instilling in the boys the need to be physically and mentally prepared for the challenges this season and this game in particular.
"I'm also most proud that our boys dedicated this campaign to Spence McTavish, who's been through so much in the last 18 years. I'm very proud of them."
UVic never found any consistent answers to the tough defending by UBC and when they did make breaks, they struggled with decision making.
"We were rusty," said UVic head coach Doug Tate. "We'd make a break but on a two-on-one we'd run into each other or throw the ball away."
UBC looked equally rusty at times, but held the ball with more consistency than the Vikes.
As expected, the work of centres Ben Grant and Nate Rees, plus the influence of forwards Charlie Thorpe and Alex Mascott kept UVic on their heels, opening up gaps for the likes of Du Toit and Hunter James.
UBC found rhythm, UVic never found theirs.
Now it's off to Vegas for both squads; will either walk away as Las Vegas Invitational collegiate champions? (UVic won last year.)
January 18, 2014
Ben Grant on his return to rugby with UBC, after two years away
Story courtesy The Province
UBC vs UVic Rugby, 2:30 p.m. Saturday, January 18, Wolfson Field, UBC
Call him the prodigal son.
Ben Grant, UVic grad, now UBC law student, figures to be a crucial man in Saturday’s second leg of the Wightman Boot series between the long time B.C. varsity rivals.
Grant went to UVic as an 18 year old, fresh out of the vaunted St. Georges program in 2005. He found time playing for Canadian junior teams, for Canada’s sevens squad and plenty of success with the Vikes.
Now, at the end of law degree that took him to the University of Saskatchewan for the previous two school years, he says his return to the pitch finds him in a great new challenge.
“I thought it (returning to rugby) would be more exciting, mainly, because I’d talked to (coach) Rameses Langston and Iknew that Spike (director of rugby Spence McTavish) had done tonnes of recruiting. It would be a fun challenge, I figured. It would be fun to be part of that turnaround.” he said.
UBC, it should be noted, hasn’t won the Wightman Boot series in 18 years. That was one of the reasons he liked the challenge of joining the Point Grey squad. Plus, there was the chance to be a veteran but also get a dose of the old university rugby spirit.
“Being the older guy, as opposed to at UVic, i thought it would be an interesting position for me,” he said. “To be a part of the young guys’ drive, the excitement of undergrad guys, I thought it would be fun.”
“I’m more of a quiet leader in a way, lead by example. It was something i was able to do at St. George’s, I was captain in grade 12,” he said.
He also pointed to the whack of youth that has come into the program this year, with some pointing back to the UBC team of 2002-03 as a comparison point. That team boasted the likes of future Canadian internationals Ryan McWhinney, Chris Pack, Mike Burak and Eric Wilson.
Grant isn’t the only veteran in the squad, either. There’s also the likes of Nate Rees and James Thompson, who have helped build the Thunderbirds into the leading squad in the Okanagan Springs League 1 competition, putting in a spot where they may find themselves contending for next season’s CDI Premiership. Rees has CDI experience with Capilano, while James Thompson played for Ulster A in Ireland.
Gelling with Rees and Thompson has been a fun exercise, the inside centre said.
“We got some big recruits in Nate Rees and James Thompson, it’s been really good, maybe the best I’ve had in terms of as an inside centre,” he explained. “Rees is a really intelligent player, I make a line break and he’s just there. He’s a really sound player.
“Off the pitch we’ve developed a good relationship, too. It’s about having that experience and being able to reflect on it. It makes it easier for us to interact,” Grant said.
Plus there’s all these young guys, who have the right attitude and make it fun for the coaches and the older players too. Head coach Rameses Langston has commented on it time and again, saying how proud he is of the buy-in from the players, that they’ve shown a willingness to put in the hard work and placing trust in each other and the coaching staff. Grant points to exactly that when talking about his teammates.
“It’s an on-the-pitch mentality, a lot has to do with the age ranges being staggered. I think it’s important that we have this mix,” he said. “A lot of these guys, UBC’s a pretty academic school, they talk about lots of stuff off the field, asking me questions about stuff. One guy’s interested in law, I’ve given him some advice, like on LSAT strategies. It’s nice to have that, that chatter on top of just guys getting together every Tuesday and Thursday.
“It shows the cohesion goes beyond the pitch.”
It’s also given him – and others – the spark to think about playing the game after he’s done school.
“I convinced my other buddy James McDonald, who’s in fourth year med school, to come back and play. He’s loving it too. I hope that I can keep playing – obviously that depends on what happens with work – but I didn’t think so before I started playing again this year.
“This was the first break from sports I’d ever taken; I didn’t play when I was in Saskatoon for the last two years,” he said.
“Now it’s almost like a necessity, the enjoyment i’m getting out of it. I hope I can keep playing.”
January 16, 2014
Langston looks back at successful first half
Perfect win-loss records. More points than you can count. More active players than UBC Rugby has seen in years.
You can understand why rookie head coach Rameses Langston is trying to keep perspective on it all: there's just too many positives to highlight, he doesn't want praise to go lacking.
But one thing he's sure of: the coaches and players are finding success because they're on the same page.
"The highlight has to be the way the guys bought into the idea of a new coach," he sad. "It said a lot about our guys about how open they were to doing some things differently but also hearing the same thing from a new voice."
"There was definitely a transition period for our veteran guys and we've go so many young guys, but the complete buy-in from all players was just great," he said.
"We wanted to see consistent success and we saw that in our end-of-half games in Seattle," he said of the big final week wins over the always-strong Seattle/OPSB sides.
"To go on the road and win two games against a very tough club, big and tough, obviously well coached...for the Birds and the Braves to do that, just take it to them non-stop, it was thrilling," he said. "It was our most consistent effort of the year."
In the second half, Langston expects even more from his squad.
"We've got to be even better than we were in the first half," he said. But he's not worried, either, given the intriguing mix of rookies and veterans he and his coaching staff have been handed.
"As a coach, I'm always trying to figure that out! if you get the right mix, you're going to win championship," he said. It's about the character of the players involved.
"For me it speaks to the character of guys like Nate Rees and Ben Grant. Super talented guys but no ego. They look at guys from our other teams and they treat then like equals. Guys like Harjun Gill and Rob Fenton are guys you build programs on," he said.
And then there's the coaching staff. Langston is very pleased with how well he and new assistant Curry Hitchborn have meshed with long-time UBC staff coaches Alasdair Hamilton, Rod Holloway and Kaz Futawatari. Then there's Spence McTavish, long time head coach and now general manager, who's been nothing but supportive of the new coaching structure.
What it all boils down to, Langston feels, is they are playing an upbeat style while setting personal expectations of everyone involved; it's been the perfect mix for their success so far.
"That's why it's working everyone's bought in, the identity of ubc, everyone that we have on staff, they want to see the program validated in the eyes of rugby community - it's a place to get a fantastic education and play a great sport," Langston said.
Next up is the Boot Game on January 18th, the first focus of the new year, and then there's the squad that will head to Las Vegas for the sevens the following week.
December 20, 2013
Totems take 3rd Division shield final
Let's go straight to the words of Totems coach Alasdair Hamilton...
"Really very entertaining , well played game despite the rain. Disciplined forward play and very good defence on both sides. We were down 7-0 in first half ...a 48 minute half???? It was a practise in patience and belief for UBC throughout the early stages of the game as both sides were evenly matched. UBC forwards poured it on in second half as Ridge Meadows's larger forwards ran out of gas. With the forwards aggressive support play, the backs enjoyed more penetration and displayed strategic passing and territorial kicking plays deep into opposition end. UBC forwards displayed the best, most cohesive and engaged display of scrummaging, rucking, driving and counterrucking of the season!!! And we won 27-12 with some strategic and instantaneously effective substitutions at front row , scrum half and flyhalf (notably Spencer Miller and Spencer Laughlin) 10 minutes into the second half.
Michael Wu was a stand out at 7 . Haydn Melin, Oscar Ortiz and Lucas Colbeck played very well in the backs. Also of note was the play of Alex Abu, Chris Ho, Theo Chapman, Chris Rey , Anton Berezerov, and Damian Mcarty. Andrew Howden had a spirited game starting at 9.
This result followed a solid week of practice on Tuesday and Thursday where we reinforced ball in contact and support both in defence and attack, with emphasis on transitional play from attack to defence and vice versa in a handling scrimmage format. Lots of salt and pepper, off nine , pummel ball, contact, posting up drills and emphasis on ATTACK and SUPPORT for backs and forwards using width of field.
Special mention to Spence Mctavish who was very supportive throughout the week assisting with back play , field set up, game arrangement and après refreshment/chips for visiting team....much appreciated.
This result was a very satisfying one for the players (not just because they took time from end of term academic pressures) the coaches and most of all the team as it enabled the club at all levels to finish positively for this fall season.
Very very proud of the boys, made up of 2 Braves, 4 Hawks and 14 regular Totem players.
Is the COACH glowing ...YES HE IS! ...Is he proud of the lads ?...YES he is!!"
Nicely done Alasdair, "Big Pundy!"
December 3, 2013
Birds and Braves romp to wins in Seattle
Give them a perfect score.
The Birds completed an epic first half with their hardest-fought win of the season, defeating Seattle 29-16.
The win means 9-0 in league play, plus that epic win over UVic in the first leg of the Boot Series.
Tries by Nate Rees, Charlie Thorpe and Eric Hunter-James in the first half opening things up; Ben Grant's tally in the second half put the game out of reach. Brock Staller was on target, kicking three conversions and a penalty.
The Braves won their match with the Seattle 2nds 38-19 to snag a perfect half of their own.
The Totems wait another week for their Shield Final matchup vs Ridge Meadows this weekend.
November 27, 2013
Braves, Birds hit the road and thump Langley; U20 Hawks dominate Capilano on home turf
So mucha has been written about the high-flying Thunderbirds squad this season but the Junior Varsity Braves are standing up and demanding notice too.
Led by five tries from Gabe Grzybowski, the Braves hit the ground running at Langley RFC forever-damp home pitch Crush Crescent, eventually blowing away their hosts 72-0. Liam Murphy-Burke kicked 5 of 6 conversions before giving way to a jovial series of drop kickers.
"With a consistently revolving door of players either going up to the Birds or playing in different spots, these guys proved their value again over the weekend," said coach Curry Hitchborn. "They executed the game plan to a 't'. Winning every single scrum was also great progress. Good to see that progress."
Just as impressive - though hardly a surprise, with both squads at 8-0 - were the Birds. Led by pairs of tries from Nate Rees and Eric Hunter-James, the Varsity ran out 48-14 winners. Brock Staller kicked 4 of 8 conversions.
The U20 Hawks welcomed North Shore rivals Capilano to Wolfson Field earlier in the morning. They weren't any kinder than the two senior teams, defeating the black and gold visitors 54-14.
November 17, 2013
UBC takes Boot series lead over UVic
Has UBC's time arrived? Going into the season, there was plenty of talk of the recruiting class of 2013. There were plenty of fresh young players making the trek to Point Grey, keen to transition from the high school game; but perhaps overlooked were the older additions.
Those comparative grey beards have proved invaluable to UBC so far this year, and this was shown as strongly as ever on Saturday in UBC"s opening leg win over UVic.
The 29-16 scoreline is solid, a clear statement that the UBC program is one on the move. UVic has held the Wightman Boot trophy for 16 years, mostly because they've always one or two more veterans than the TBirds.
But that's not as much the case this year.
Led by tries from Ben Grant, Nate Rees, Sean Ferguson and James Thompson, the Birds executed from nearly start to finish, controlling the flow of play in a way that has been typical of their game all season.
Grant, Rees and Ferguson bring with them a wealth of experience, at both international and premier league level; their tries on Saturday were confirmation of the strong leadership they've added to the mix.
The second leg will take place in the new year.
November 10, 2013
UBC heads to UVic, ready for boot game challenge
By Andrew Smith, BC Rugby Communications Manager
VICTORIA, BC - Round one of the storied Wightman 'Boot' competition is set for this Saturday and title holders UVic Vikes will be looking to deny the UBC Thunderbirds their first series win since 2008. The competition between western Canada's top university sides dates back to the 1967-68 season and has featured many of Canada's greatest players over the years.
University Rugby Wightman Boot Series - Sat. November 9th:
UBC U20 at UVic U20 (Wallace Field) 1:00pm
BOOT: UBC Thunderbirds at UVic Vikes (Wallace Field) 2:30pm
Saturday's clash is set for 2:30pm and will also have a curtain raiser between the program's under-20 sides at 1:00pm. The double-header will feature high speed rugby and will be an opportunity to see many of the junior national team reps in action for their school sides.
Known as "The Boot", the annual home-and-home series is named after the late Brian Wightman, an Englishman who coached at UBC from 1964-67. Famous for going on tour with one shirt, a pair of pants, one tie, one pair of underwear and a pair of socks, Wightman would wash his clothes every night and wear them again the next day. The trophy itself is Wightman's rugby boot, stolen and bronzed by his players.
The series has now been contested for over 40 years and is closely watched by passionate alumni bases at both schools.
Over the years the Boot competition has featured SFU and Stanford but the majority of matches were played between UVic and UBC. Overall, UVic boasts 39 wins to UBC's 17 while the series was split one year with a tie. The competition format switched to a double-round competition during the 1996-97 season.
In recent years the Vikes have held the upper hand in the series, having clinched 16 straight Boot titles. The 2012-13 season saw UVic take both matches with a convincing 52-28 victory in September, 2012 and then a series-clinching win with a 39-15 result at UBC in late March.
UBC's last win in the series came back in 2008 but the 10-5 score line saw them fall short in the home-and-home total point series as UVic had previously won 36-5 in the opening round.
The gap has steadily been closing between the two sides and after another two years of heavy recruiting by UBC's coaching staff, many in the Thunderbirds community are wondering if this could finally be the year that ends their trophy drought.
Predictions are tough to draw heading into Saturday with the two sides competing in different levels of club competition. The Vikes are tested week in and week out in the Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League but have slipped to 2-2 after a narrow loss to league newcomers Vancouver Rowing Club on November 2nd.
UBC are 7-0 in the Tier Two Okanagan Spring Brewery League and have racked up 428 points in offence while allowing just 33 against. The students have lit up their opposition in recent weeks, most recently routing United Rugby Club 90-0.
Take away both team's national players on duty with the Canadian 15s and development 7s rosters and this weekend's clash could see a much slimmer margin of victory.
"I think it will be a pretty even game," said UVic coach Doug Tate. "UBC are doing very well in the league they're playing in. We don't have anything to measure their success with but we know they've got some good young players and historically for both our programs, this is one of the biggest competitions that we have."
Having coached many of the players on both sides through the BC U18 provincial team, UBC head coach Rameses Langston knows Saturday will be a tough contest on the road.
"I'm expecting them to throw the ball around," said Langston. "They like to move it wide and will take advantage of our mistakes. UVic are a fast, dynamic and technically sound team and are the top university team to beat in Canada."
The match will be an opportunity to measure UBC's progress, according to their head coach who is yet to see his players really tested this season.
"UVic can put points on you very quickly. They have talent from 1-15 and beyond that," Langston added. "Right now this game is just another step for us to see how we are building the program. It's going to be a great to contest and an opportunity to see how much depth we have."
UBC will be relying on their veteran core including a quartet that have all come through the Canada under-20 program. The list includes sevens flyer Sean Ferguson, Alex Kam, Alex Mascott and Charlie Thorpe. Hard-hitting centre Ben Grant - who came through UVic's rugby program during his undergrad - will also be suiting up for the Thunderbirds and will provide some veteran leadership. Jorden Sandover-Best will be missed at scrum half as he is on duty with Canada's sevens roster in the Caribbean.
UVic will be without the services of Nathan Yanagiya and Pat Kay who are also competing in the NACRA 7s, while their scrum half Jamie Mackenzie is on tour in Europe with the senior men's national 15s team. UVic have plenty of experience, however, with Canada U20 grads Dustin Dobravsky, James Pitblado and Liam Murray at their disposal. Along with Pitblado, UVic also have key players in BC U19 provincial reps Haydn Evans, Fergus Hall and MacBryan Bos. The Vikes also have a sturdy front row in Dan Hrycyk, Casey Reed and BC Bears rep Clayton Thornber.
Kick off for the first leg of the 2013-14 'Boot' game is set for 2:30pm at UVic's Wallace Field.
November 7, 2013
UBC carries on winning formula, close October on high note
Big wins continue to be UBC's calling card, as the Birds, Braves and Hawks all posted big score lines.
The Birds had a big day, knocking off visiting Kamloops 78-0. Nate Rees and James Thompson each bagged a hat trick of tries, while Brock Staller nailed six conversions. Sean Ferguson and Quinton Wilms each dotted down twice. Tom Roche had a powerful performance up front, showing more of the form that saw him make Canada U20 last spring.
Strong performances from Matt Cheong and Kirk Bonnis led the Braves to an 83-10 win against Kamloops. Mike O'Toole had three tries, Liam Murphy-Burke two and so did Cullly Quirke.
The Hawks travelled to South Surrey, where they met Western Washington University in a U20 league encounter. Led by strong performances by fly half Ben LeSage and number eight Adrian Heieis, the Hawks rolled to a 64-0 whitewash over the south-of-the-line visitors.
October 29, 2013
UBC makes it five out of five
It's the kind of start a new coach dreams of. Count UBC head coach Rameses Langston as pleased.
"Strong effort at all levels," is how he sums up the fifth week of the season's results.
Wins for the Birds (55-8), Braves (48-13) and the U20s (32-13) will do that. The senior two teams were up against strong sides from Abbotsford, while the U20s were facing their cross-strait rivals from the University of Victoria.
UBC got impressive performances from returning back-rower Charlie Thorpe and new recruit Nate Rees.
Rees has been a force in the centres for UBC, which shouldn't surprise, given his extensive experience in the Premier League for Capilano. Thorpe has stepped up into a leadership role this season, drawing from his experience with Canada U20 this summer in Chile.
Bravers flanker Angus McWhirter's performance drew strong praise from the coaching staff.
"Slow start, strong finish," said Braves coach Curry Hitchborn.
The U20 Hawks were led to their win by Harjun Gill and Rob Fenton.
Unfortunately, it was a tough day at the office for the Totems, who fell 34-26 to Abbotsford in a tight encounter.
October 7, 2013
UBC comes home, keeps things in high gear
Three games, three more wins.
Count the coaching staff as immensely pleased, after a fine performance on the first home weekend of the season for UBC men's rugby.
The conditions were perfect with brilliant sunshine drawing a fine crowd of several hundred fans to Wolfson Field.
The a triple-header of games against the always-hard nosed Richmond club were never going to be easy for any of UBC's teams - Richmond are known for playing a tough, grinding, disciplined style - but this group of student-athletes seems intent on proving otherwise.
Led by Brock Staller's two tries, the Birds came roaring back in the second half to dismiss the Sea Islanders 25-7, the Braves roared away to a 77-3 win and the Totems had set the day up with a solid 36-17 win. Both the Birds and the Braves move to 2-0 on the year, while the Totems levelled their record at 1-1. (The Hawks had a bye.)
"We're very pleased," said head coach Rameses Langston after the Birds' triumph. "The Birds took time to find their game, but we're very pleased with how we raised things in the second half."
September 23, 2013
UBC off to a flying start, nearly sweep opening day
Three out of four ain't bad.
Call it a 'flying' start for the 2013-14 UBC men's rugby season. Three wins, 164 points scored and too many try scorers to count.
"Too many try scorers to recognize individuals," said Birds head coach Rameses Langston. "Both the Birds and Braves played strong team rugby. We are happy with today's effort. Bayside competed well throughout the game. We look forward to playing them again later this season."
Call Langston happily modest - the Birds won their matchup in a 51-0 shutout, while the Braves set up the South Surrey sweep with a 53-14 win.
Up the Valley, the U20 Hawks were also victorious, winning 43-29 against Abbotsford.
"Twelves tries scored, that tells you how wide open the game was," said Director of Rugby Spence McTavish, who travelled with the squad on Saturday. "We played very well with the ball in hand, it was a good start."
The Totems, UBC's other development squad, fell 31-17 to a plucky Chilliwack squad.
"We didn't get the results but for our first game out, the guys did well," said coach Alasdair Hamilton. "That’s the purpose of the whole thing, as much as the results, it’s about the guys enjoying themselves and the game. I don’t see any negatives in the scenario."
September 16, 2013
UBC ready to launch 2013/14 campaign
UBC Rugby head coach Rameses Langston is looking. He's got a huge squad led by committed coaches; everything looks to be falling into place for a successful season.
"We are excited obviously I'm trying to keep everything in perspective," he said after Thursday evening's practice.
The squad took on each other last week, playing a pair of intra-squad matches in front of a bevy of interested parents and other onlookers.
But now the games start for real. First up for the varsity Birds and the junior varsity Braves are the Bayside Sharks, who played in the BC Rugby CDI Premier League last season.
"For the Birds, it's going to be a challenge playing a premier club that's been relegated."
And even as the whole squad - not just the varsity players - looks for a sweep of wins on Saturday, Langston is quick to emphasise that in the near-term, building a positive culture is the bigger focus.
"We're creating an atmosphere of trust," he said. "One of our stressing points has been open lines of communication. Players must feel comfortable approaching coaches, looking for feedback.
"Those guys who are in the mix, we've made it clear to these guys we're going to give them feed back on where they are at."
While Langston and Curry Hitchborn lead the Birds and the Braves to South Surrey to take on Bayside, the other two teams, the Hawks and the Totems, are heading up the valley for tilts of their own.
The return to four teams - a feat not managed in more than two decades - is a promising one. In past years the Totems were used as a bridge team, with both frosh players and athletes new to the sport melding into a team focused on skill development and culture building.
Now, with nearly a hundred players having turned out so far, the chance to run a Under-20 squad alongside a seperate development squad has arisen. Kaz Futawatari is coaching the Under-20 Totems, while long time UBC coach Alasdair "Pundy" Hamilton is in charge of the Hawks.
"The Hawks obviuosly is at that level where guys are figuring it out," said Langston. "That's why we designed that team; it's an opportunity to play, guys won't be stuck on the sideline. It keeps us full of bodies. And our U20s will do very well."
"The focus for the first few weeks is definitely attitude we're trying to build a culture where we're keeping each other up, not worrying about mistakes," said Langston. "We've only just started sorting out teams. Trust is going to take a few games to develop."
September 12, 2013
Five Birds look back at the Canada U20 experience
What was the biggest lesson you learned?
"My biggest lesson would be that no matter how much you play you still have an important role and can improve regardless of the play time" - Jorden Sandover-Best
What's your funniest memory?
"One day in Langford we went to the beach and had to make rafts in groups, when we tried them they all sunk and that was a good laugh" - Charlie Thorpe
What's the most memorable part of the whole experience? "For me, the best part of the U-20 experience at the JWRT was the extreme pride of representing your country with a team full of other players who were all just as passionate. Standing in the tunnel before a match, looking at the other team, and knowing that you were going to make sure you out performed them, and that as a team, you would prove Canada to be a country worthy of regard. " - Alex Mascott
What was the hardest thing you did?
"In Langford we had to get up one morning and do hill sprints, everybody almost threw up and that, for me, was the hardest thing we had to do" - Neil Courtenay
What was the best moment in Chile itself?
"Best memory of the trip would have to be beating Japan. They were hyped up the whole tournament and beating them by 20 was big" - Connor Hamilton
September 9, 2013
Birds fail to take flight in Provincial semi-finals
On the Field
The Birds hosted the Vancouver Rowing Club in a Provincial Semi-Final Match this past Saturday at Wolfson. We were missing quite a few athletes due to work and the Canada U 20 camp in Langford, but we fielded a team that we felt would compete and would have a good chance at winning the game as all of our players had played games for the Birds. It seems that our boys must have caught a bug much like the “Canucks” ……. we did not show up on the day and lost 50-10 to the Rowers. Down 30-0 at the half we were able to get back two to make it 30 -10 with 25 minutes to go but we looked like we were looking for the golf course for the rest of the match. Turn the page and move on.
Chris Holt, Alex Kam and Paul Reid all played their last game in a Birds jersey and we would like to thank them for their years of hard work and commitment to our program. They will officially now become alumni and join a truly unique group of supporters.
Off the Field
We enjoyed a very fine pot luck dinner and barbeque last Thursday night after practice as we handed out our yearly awards. Thanks and gifts were awarded to our training staff and coaches. Good bye steins, filled with the appropriate fluid, were presented to Jem Arnold for his seven years at UBC (four as a player and three as a trainer) and David Johnston for his many years of coaching at UBC. Dave is retiring from teaching this year and will be off to the Philippines this summer. Good luck Dave!
Best Totem Forward James McKenzie (St. Thomas Moore Collegiate)
Best Totem Back Jun Yamakawa (Kuman Kokusai Gakuen)
Best Brave Forward Eric Olson (Rick Hansen)
Best Brave Back Gavin Stephen (Brentwood)
Best Bird Forward Charlie Thorpe (Vancouver College)
Best Bird Back Sean Ferguson (Brentwood)
Rookie of the year Brock Staller (Kitsilano)
Buzz Moore Award Alex Kam (McRoberts)
Birds 15 W 6 L 2T
Braves 16 W 1 L 1 T
Totems 10 W 10 L
Coaches are currently writing up year reports for the players and planning for next year is already underway. The BC Provincial High School Championship in late May and the Provincial Regional Championship in July will be two big tournaments that will be scrutinized and no stone will be left unturned as we look for future Thunderbird greats!
Thank you for your support and we will keep you up to date on what is happening at UBC during the upcoming summer months.
Director of UBC Rugby
Department of Athletics and Recreation
272 6081 University Blvd
Vancouver BC V6T 1Z1
May 4th, 2013
Birds and Braves finish the league schedule
On the Field
The Birds and Braves finished their league schedule this past Saturday at King George Park with two victories against the up and coming Richmond RFC. The Birds will finish first in their league with 13 W 1L and 2 T while the Braves finished second in their league with 14 W 1 L and 1 T.
The Braves put in a seven try effort against Richmond with Eric Chau (Charles Tupper) and David Turner (St. Georges) both recording a hat trick of tries. Big Ilan Cumberbirch (aka “the hockey guy”, Prince of Wales) crossed once. Freshman, Charlie Fuller (Mc Roberts Secondary) was good on four conversions and two penalty kicks. The final score for the Braves was 49-12.
The Birds game was a very physical affair with “physicality” being the theme for Richmond. A win for them meant they would reach the playoffs. Richmond’s “physicality” turned into three red cards on the day and the Birds found themselves playing 15 vs. 12 for the last fifteen minutes of the game. Hooker, Alex Mascott ( St. Georges) crossed twice and fellow front row companion Neil Courtney ( Handsworth) touched down once for the forwards while fullback Sean Ferguson (Brentwood) scored a brace and Eric Hunter-James (Rockridge) crossed once for the backs. Brock Staller (Kitsilano) was good on three conversions making it 36-12 for UBC.
Off the Field
UBC has five players included in the Canada U20 Team that will be playing in the World Junior Trophy Tournament in Antofagasta, Chile. They will soon be off to Blaine, Minnesota playing two exhibition games against the USA U20. UBC players represented are scrum half, Jorden Best (Bateman), hooker Alex Mascott (St. Georges), prop Neil Courtney (Handsworth), lock Connor Hamilton (St. Georges) and flanker Charlie Thorpe (Vancouver College). Good luck boys!
Canada U 20 Games
May 8th Canada vs. USA
May 11th Canada vs. USA
May 28th Canada vs. Tonga
June 1st Canada vs. Japan
June 5th Canada vs. Uruguay
June 9th Canada vs. TBD
Down the Road
Both the Birds and the Braves made the playoffs but we will be only fielding one team. Due to the lack of players available it was decided to enter only one team. Losing our five Canada U20 players along with players who had to leave due to work has left us a little thin in certain areas. Nonetheless, we will put out our strongest group in our quest for the Provincial title.
UBC vs. Vancouver Rowing Club
Saturday May 4th at 2:45pm on Wolfson #2.
Director of UBC Rugby
Department of Athletics and Recreation
272 6081 University Blvd
Vancouver BC V6T 1Z1
September 5, 2012