They’re probably the only team in the entire Northwest zone who can play three recently-moved exchange students as starters, lose their two fastest guys on the outside and still come within just a few tries of securing a zones victory for Charles Hays (CHSS) rugby sevens.
The CHSS Hurricanes hosted the Smithers Secondary Gryphons on Saturday, and fell by a two-game aggregate score of 22-7, but played a spirited and inspiring two games against one of the best teams in the Northwest.
“We’re good players. It did break down a little bit for our lines, but honestly we put out a good performance and we had fun playing the game,” said team co-captain Tanner Pretulac after the games.
The first match saw both sides feel each other out, and it was one try by the Gryphons that made the difference in an extremely tight 5-0 win for Smithers.
“It was pretty much anyone’s game,” said Hurricanes head coach Andy Enns.
Unfortunately for the Rupert side, a key cog in their offensive weaponry was sidelined early as Liam Robertson had to retire from the day with an injury.
Later on, the team’s other outside threat, Cody Schaeffer, also had to leave the game with a knock to his head.
“We lost our starting scrum-half and our co-captain, both of whom are the fastest players on the team, so that changes how we play the game – once we lose the speed on the outside,” said Enns.
But that didn’t deter the Hurricanes.
“Our team was up for it. Even after we made all those changes, we were arguably better. We were hitting better, passing better once we got into the flow of the game … the outcome didn’t show it, but they were both very, very tight games. I’m extremely impressed with our rookies that we had this year, which we had many that had never touched a rugby ball before, learned the game and were dominant out there,” said Enns.
The Gryphons took the second game 17-7 and it was Pretulac that scored the team’s only points late in the game. The team’s strong coverage and communication gave them the edge in the first half of each game, while the Hurricanes usually turned up the heat later on in the second halves.
“It started out a bit of a mess, but we pulled it together. It was just a pass and we kept mauling through their guys and it turned into two rucks and the ball came out. I drove through two guys and hit the ground right before the line and I just jumped up and placed the ball,” said Pretulac.
Other Hurricanes who had fine efforts this season, among others, include Mathis Chaniol, Johnathon Lundman, Branden Skaar and Chase Woelders.
While rugby sevens is now finished for the season, rugby 15s will begin at the end of March in 2015.