After claiming provincial victory for the second year in a row, the Terrace Northmen rugby team awarded several players for dedication and skill in a their wrap-up celebration last weekend.
The season was a lot of fun, said club vice president Evan van Dyk.
“The league was a lot more entertaining this year… a lot tighter games,” he said, noting that the Northmen only beat Williams Lake by two points, and had a fun rivalry with Prince George, losing at home and then beating them away with a narrow last-minute try.
It “was riveting and a lot of fun,” said van Dyk, “and [we’re] looking forward to playing again next year… [continuing the] rivalries which developed.”
Provincials also fielded some solid competition in Penticton July 29-30, said van Dyk.
Scores were fairly uneven in favour of the Northmen, but that doesn’t reflect the challenge of the Saratoga Cup, which is the provincial championship for independant B.C. clubs.
Heading to the championship as defending champions, the Terrace Northmen faced the Vernon Jackals and Elk Valley Bulls for the title.
The Northmen beat Vernon 39-7, then overcame Elk Valley 24-5, before claiming the cup with a final match against Vernon 34-14.
The final was close and tight in the early part of the game, with the Northmen only up two points by half.
“The score doesn’t show how close it was… it was actually a really good game,” said van Dyk, adding that it was just at the end that the Northmen pulled away.
Their strategy? Give the ball to Jared Stephens, who was on fire!
He landed an impressive five tries, scoring 25 of the team’s total 34 points in the finals.
Last weekend the team celebrated the season wrap-up, honouring several players with awards decided by team vote.
Season MVP was Walker Main, and the Most Valuable Forward was named Craig Dunfield.
“It was a tight race between Craig and Walker. They were both by far the two best players this year,” said van Dyk, noting that there was only a one-vote difference between them for MVP.
“They both had incredibe seasons… both are really great athletes, both made all the games and were very committed to the team,” explained van Dyk of why these players were honoured.
Brady Champoux won Most Valuable Back for his solid and consistent play and Rookie of the Year went to Ken Prince, who eagerly joined this year and volunteered frequently for fund raisers and such.
Curtis Young-Mercer was named Most Improved Player, and Mike Meijer and Tim Waggott were both given the Ben Soucie Clubsman Award as the two most dedicated.
Van Dyk says both guys showed standup commitment to the team, with Meijer playing and bringing his young family to every game and Waggott travelling back from contract work in Newfoundland to play every match.
The season is now wrapped up for the year, and will start up again when the snow melts, with the first game likely in April.