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Arguably, the best men's club in the United States is not playing in any US competition.
Seattle Old Puget Sound Beach is, instead, set to play in the BC DI league final on Saturday in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Not to end there, while S-OPSB's 1st team faces UBC in the Okanagan Spring Brewery DI final, Beach's 2nd team faces UBC's 2nds in the DII final on the same day.
Last Saturday, Seattle-OPSB hammered Richmond 59-11 to reach the final, while Seattle-OPSB II defeated the Surrey Beavers. UBC II beat Abbotsford to make the DII final, while the Thunderbirds' 1sts beat Velox 58-20 in the DI semi.
Now is the rubber match. Seattle split their games with UBC in DI, while in DII Seattle lost once and tied once against UBC.
"UBC are a really good side, and we had a really good performance against them," Seattle-OPSB Head Coach Justin Fitzpatrick said of his team's 37-24 defeat of the T-Birds April 5. "No doubt they will be tougher this time around. They will have some players back from the Canada U20s team and we've got a lot of respect for their program."
Still, S-OPSB has been doing pretty well. Loaded with talent, with Matt Trouville and Lou Stanfill the heavy-lifters in the forwards, and with Ollie Kilifi, John Cullen, Mike Shepherd, and Kellen Gordon helping form a powerful forward pack, Beach can also unleash some formidable backline power.
"The guys are coming along," said Fitzpatrick. "We've got some very, very exciting backs in both groups and we've scored some nice tries. But it's all founded on a strong forwards performance. In the team's I've played in and coached, we've always had the objective of playing fast, free-flowing rugby. That has not changed, but that's best accomplished behind a dominant
In the backs, Nic Hawkins and Will Rasileka are somewhat unheralded because players such as Mike Palefau, Miles Craigwell, Ben Gollings, Fili Botitu, and others get noticed, as well. But they are central to the backline effort this weekend at the Brockton Oval.
Aaron Fry, Will Haydock, Peter Tiberio, Emosi Vucago, Shalom Suniula, Isi Daveta, Tim Stanfill are more names, and we've hardly scratched the surface.
As for the 2nd team, it's a pretty good team.
"We have strength in depth," said Fitzpatrick. "We get 60 guys out at training working really hard and playing for something, and we do that with the plan of fielding 44 guys on a weekend who are competitive. I think that our 2nd team, if I compare it to the DI clubs we played last year, could beat a good few of them. The coaching staff feel very, very strongly that we're only as strong as our weakest link and we've taken strides to ensure that everybody is developed. We have players called up to national teams, and we need to be able to fill in no matter what."
Kevin Flynn has been the heart and soul of this element of the Seattle-OPSB effort. When it was just the Seattle RFC playing in BC, Flynn's efforts on and off the field kept up the fight, even when some BC clubs started balking at crossing the border once a year (Seattle does it at least eight times a season). This is reportedly Flynn's last hurrah as a player, and it's fitting that it will be in a championship game.
Sam Harp, Pat Farrell held lead the forward effort in the DII game.
The DI final has implications over and above the trophy. The winner garners an invitation to the British Columbia Premiership for the 2014-2015 season. This is perhaps the toughest league in North America.
Here is the slate of games at Brockton Oval in Vancouver's Stanley Park:
BC RUGBY FINALS AT BROCKTON OVAL
*General Admission tickets at Brockton Oval are $10.00
4:30pm - Okanagan Spring Brewery League One - THE PROVINCE CUP
UBC Thunderbirds vs Seattle-OPSB
2:45pm - Okanagan Spring Brewery League Two
UBC vs Seattle-OPSB
1:10pm - Women’s First Division: KAREN MOORE CUP
Cowichan Rugby Club vs Kamloops Rugby Club
11:30am - Women’s Second Division: GED GRIFFITH’S CUP
Meraloma Rugby Club vs Nanaimo Hornets