And so ends the Terrace Northmen’s tradition of kicking off the season at Edmonton’s Rugbyfest, the annual 7s tournament where they’ve been darlings of the social side for the last several years, and earned the championship last year.
That’s because next year, they have their eyes on Maggotfest, North America’s biggest social rugby tournament in Montana as their season opener and a chance to shake things up.
This year, knowing it would be their last, the team took 12 guys to the Edmonton tourney (a much smaller team than usual, in part because the team’s six firefighters needed to stay in the northwest) and decided “we were just going to have fun and just play rugby – no real strategy, just get in their and play hard,” said Northman Adam Linteris. “It worked out for us.”
The team dominated the first three games in their pool, winning by wide margins, and beat the Cold Lake Penguins from Alberta in the quarter finals.
But then they faced off against the BATUS (British Army Training Unit Suffield) Barbarians – a British Army training unit based in Alberta.
“A bunch of large Fijians who knew how to play 7s rugby really well,” said Linteris, later noting that Terrace hadn’t been focusing on 7s strategy leading up to the tournament.
“They were a pretty serious team. All pretty large guys – they were skilled. Even at our best I don’t know if we would’ve had the firepower to take them out.”
The Barbarians would go on to win the tournament – with the Northmen being the only team able to put up points on them.
“They didn’t like our style, we were very aggressive. They were trying to stay out of conflict and we were trying to initiate conflict,” said Linteris. “By the end of the game we tired them out, you could see it. I think the final score was 34-10 – so they beat us pretty handily but I don’t think they had very much fun doing it.”
Linteris said the group that went to Rugbyfest, while small, worked well together. “We’d all played together for years – you could kind of see it, everyone knew their roll and did the work,” he said.
“Phil Blundon, Jamie McKinstrie, Walker Main and Werner Pienaar were huge standouts – probably the one player that stood out the most in my mind is Brady Champoux,” he said. “He’s really elevated his game this year and he exited that tournament as probably our top scorer. Did really well.”
The team started the official season last weekend against Williams Lake with a 27-19 win here at home and plays Prince George on June 6.
“Well-oiled machines, both very strong,” said Linteris of the competition.
“We’re going to have to be on top of our game to beat them – even with home field advantage and all of our players, there’s no game we’re going to meet those guys at and have a good time. Tough rugby but it’ll be good rugby.”