The Velox Valkyries won the Gordon Harris Memorial trophy as the top women's rugby team in B.C.

Spartans draw stiff test against Barbarians in boys rugby playoffs

Claremont Spartans, Esquimalt Dockers, Glenlyon Gryphons, Oak Bay Barbarians and St. Michaels University School Blue Jags playoff rugby

The Claremont Spartans will take the good over the bad from being ranked 15th going into the AAA high school boys provincial rugby championships.

The first-round draw is a convenient one geographically, as the Spartans will play Saturday morning at Brentwood College. But facing the Oak Bay Barbarians, ranked second in B.C., is the challenge.

“I guess we’ll take facing (No. 2) Oak Bay over (No. 1) Shawnigan,” said Phil Ohl. The Claremont teacher can’t help but watch from an arm’s length, in support of Saanich teachers having agreed to scale back extracurricular volunteer work to protest Bill 22.

Ohl has reconstructed the Spartans senior boys rugby program in recent years, including organizing the Spartan Scrumfest, which has become the Island’s biggest annual high school rugby tournament.

Among the many parents and community coaches who’ve stepped up across the province is Nelson Lah with the Spartans.

Raised on a South Pacific style of game in Singapore, Lah, whose son Nolen is a Grade 11 player with the Spartans, said he couldn’t stand by and let anything jeopardize the time already committed to the team.

“Last year the junior team (made up of Grade 10s) won the city championship including beating (Oak Bay’s junior team) twice,” Lah said.

The Spartans have strengthened their squad by facing top clubs Shawnigan Lake, Brentwood College, Cowichan secondary, Oak Bay High and St. Michaels University School, even if most losses were one sided.

It showed in the final game of the school league’s regular season, said Lah, with a huge 20-19 win over the Reynolds Rogues, netting the Spartans a berth in the provincials.

In their previous meeting, the Barbarians defeated the Spartans 38-0.

“We’re not looking past (Claremont) at all, it’s one game at a time for us,” said Barbarians coach Murray Allen.

“Claremont are one of the bright lights this year, growing tremendously in the Tier 1 division with St. Michaels, (Oak Bay) and Glenlyon Norfolk School.”

Howard Russell Cup

Kimia Hamidi led the Oak Bay Barbarians to a 25-22 win over St. Michaels in the city’s AAA final, the Howard Russell Cup, last week. Hamidi kicked two of three try conversions and two penalties, including the winning kick in the final minutes of the game.

“St. Michaels was much improved from the Boot Game and we expect a similar improvement from Claremont on Saturday,” Allen said.

Colonel Hodgkins Cup

The Glenlyon Norfolk School Gryphons won its third consecutive AA city championship over the Esquimalt Dockers, the Colonel Hodgkins Cup.

Kicking off at 11 a.m. at Brentwood on Saturday are AAA teams Oak Bay versus Claremont, and AA teams Glenlyon (No. 4 seed) versus Ladysmith (No. 12), followed by another AA matchup, Esquimalt (No. 15) versus Brentwood College (No. 2) at 12:30 p.m.

Senior provincial wrap

The Velox Valkyries recently won the provincial championship trophy for premier women’s rugby, the Gordon Harris Memorial Cup, defeating Burnaby Lake 20-14.

Velox’s win was one of four B.C. Rugby Union finals played at Klahanie Park in North Vancouver on May 12.

Capilano upset first-place James Bay in the premier men’s Rounsefell Cup final, 22-21, while the Castaway Wanderers edged Meraloma 24-16 in the men’s Ceili’s Cup league (Div. 1) final.

Kamloops Raiders beat the Velox Valhallians 38-29 in the men’s Provincewide Third Division final.