Terrace’s Northmen set a 10-year record on May long weekend.
It was the first time the team won a game outside northwestern B.C. — but it wasn’t just one game the team won at the Edmonton’s Rugby Fest tournament that weekend.
The local men’s rugby team came fourth out of 23 teams from across western Canada in their division, won five games, and made it to the playoffs.
“It was unreal,” said player Evan van Dyk. “We’ve never actually won a game outside of northwestern B.C. in the last 10 years.”
The tournament started off round robin style, and the Northmen won each of their four games played on the first day.
In the first game, the Northmen schooled the Cold Lake Penguins, taking a 45 – 0 win.
“It started off really well, we dominated it really,” said team captain Walker Main. “We started off strong and finished strong.
“I think we had possession of the ball the majority of the time and the few times they did get possession our defence was too strong for them and we would turn it over and gain possession of the ball.”
Next the team played the Prince Rupert Seamen, taking a 29 – 17 win.
“We got all those points right in the first half,” said Main, explaining that the team then subbed out their starters giving rookie players time on the field.
“They started clawing back and then we subbed back our starters.”
In the third game, the Northmen beat the Parkland Sharks 32 -5 before defeating the Edmonton Pirates 35 – 12.
“With the Edmonton team …the average guy was double the size of us,” said Main. “It was really impressive to me to see some of our guys there a third of the size of some of their players.”
“After a couple big tackles from Adam Linteris and Jon Doane, we showed them what we’re all about and we weren’t going to back off and took it to ‘em.”
That series of wins took the team into Sunday’s round of competition where the top two teams from each pool competed for a spot in the final games. Games were played in a single knockout tournament style.
The Northmen’s first game that day was against Winnipeg Tropics, bringing in a 27 – 17. This brought the team into the semi finals.
“In that game every single player on the field made a tackle … that stood out to me … a tackle that meant something in winning that game.”
The next game played was against the Calgary Saints, and despite a 57 – 12 loss, the Northmen advanced to the finals.
“Well, their team … 90 per cent of them were from the U.K.,” said Main. “They had one player on their team on the wing that’s training for next Olympics, so they gave him the ball a lot.”
“You can imagine all he needed was a little bit of room on the side and he was gone.”
For the bronze, the team played the Williams Lake Rustlers, losing 22 -12.
“It looked like we were on our way, but there were four offside penalties we took,” said Main. “I touched the scrum half before I touched the ball.”
“In quick games like that, it only takes a couple penalties to get you behind,” he said. “It was probably the toughest game we played all tournament, lots of tackling.”
Despite two losses, the tournament was a big win overall for the team, said Main.
“I’ve been playing for the Northmen for about 13 years and it’s probably the best time I’ve ever had,” he said.