The Comox Valley connection of Foster deWitt and Nakai Penny helped the BC U19 men wIn the Canadian Rugby Championship in Regina on July 19 thanks to an 11-8 victory over Ontario.
Ontario’s Andrew Coe had a chance to tie the game with a penalty kick at the death, and thereby bump his team to the top of the podium via tie-breaking math, but his attempt was repelled in mid-flight by heavy winds.
The nail-biting finish was the third consecutive game for B.C. that saw the outcome decided in the final minutes. B.C. had put themselves in position to hoist the CRC hardware following a 15-10 win over the Prairie Wolf Pack, where deWitt scored the winning try on Saturday and a 12-7 win over the Atlantic Rock on Friday.
Following a 56-5 thumping of THE Voyageurs to open the tournament, the offence frustratingly sputtered for B.C. Luckily the team was able to rise to the occasion on defence, especially in the final, and take points opportunistically.
“The boys really stepped up their physicality, particularly against Ontario,” said BC Rugby Performance Development Manager Dean Murten. “It was really good to see that type of effort from them.”
B.C.’s lone try against Ontario came just before half-time, courtesy of centre Phil Berna (Vancouver/UBC Thunderbirds).
Murten also singled out the play of Jason Hignell (Mission/Abbotsford RFC), whom he felt was the player of the tournament.
“All our boys had solid performances this week, but Jason really showed great leadership, both on and off the field, and was a real difference maker for us.”
This marks the third time in the last four years that B.C. has won the U19 Canadian Rugby Championship, with previous victories coming in 2013 and 2012.
Both deWitt and Penny were very involved and played in each game: Penny at loose forward and deWitt at front row. deWitt is with UBC and was a key member of both G.P. Vanier and Comox Valley Kickers. Penny recently moved to the Comox Valley from Penticton and also plays with UBC.
This was deWitt’s fourth national title at various ages. UBC won the premier rugby crown in 2015 and it was the first time in 68 years. They are looking forward to a university tournament in Oxford in September while the World Cup is on in England.
With a file from Rugby BC