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“What a difference a day makes, twenty-four little hours brought the sun and flowers where there used to be rain.” So sang Dinah Washington and to paraphrase her, if not a day, then what a difference an off-season in rugby makes. After a promising start last season the wheels came off the wagon somewhat with several defeats for the 1s allied to retirements, numerous long-term injuries and an ageing player profile led to more than a touch of gloom around the club before a truly heroic and gritty backs-to-the-wall victory over Mississauga away provided some much needed cheer. Additionally after overseeing the most successful period in the clubs history the longstanding and hugely popular DOR, Jon Goode, and his Assistant DOR Tom Kimball (who I’ve recently realised is the doppelganger of Dexter Morgan: hopefully in looks but who knows what goes on behind those lifeless black doll-like eyes?) stepped aside leaving the club in, if not a state of flux, then certainly an Axl Rose warble of “where do we go now?” Kudos then to our president, David Tait, for appointing two club legends to the roles in Todd Cornford and Noel Chambers and what an impact both have had. After the Victorian Dad-like approach of “you’ll get nothing and like it” from Messrs. Goode and Kimball comes the new-age, hippy-loving, tofu-eating, sandal-wearing, empathy based approach from the new regime. Allied to this is some shrewd recruiting from Tom Clancy, no doubt threatening to make possible waverers an offer they can’t refuse by either signing up or joining the ranks of murdered people already associated with his new abode. You still need some crazy after all.
All of these meanderings mean that armed with new recruits and the return and revitalisation of several stalwarts the club has, up to this point, played five games between all three sides and remains undefeated. Saturday saw the 3s impressively defeat Markham Irish 2’s 29-15, the 2s beat Buccaneers 48-10 and the 1s emerge victorious 37-17 against the same opposition.
Under azure skies and captained by Josh Weaver the 1s started at a ferocious pace with 2016 MVP, David Reilly, and current Rookie of the Year, Toby Sharland, scything through the Buccaneers ranks. Taking a pass off James De Ree Reilly broke two tackles and stormed upfield with the Bucs fullback earning his corn and possibly a medal for bravery in bringing him down. Sharland took the attack further and with Reilly back in position he slipped the most delicious pass to perhaps the only other prop as complete in the TRU, Graham O’Neill, who touched down under the posts.
Don’t think that Reilly and O’Neill are wannabe wingers. They showed how good they are at the fundamentals of the job by shunting the Bucs off their ball at the next scrum allowing Chris Boyack to win one against the head. From midfield quick ball from Remi Oguni to Spencer Morgan gave the Pigs a great attacking opportunity. Morgan threw a long flat pass to Sharland whose pace and angle of running shredded the Bucs midfield and took the action to the 22. The Bucs cleared their lines but from the resulting lineout Tom Schwitzer claimed the ball and the rest of the pack mauled the ball over the line with De Ree emerging from the pile of bodies armed with a wide grin and ball in hand.
The Bucs enjoyed a sustained period of possession inside the Pigs half launching several attacks only to be thwarted by some resolute defending and the sideline on one occasion when their fullback drew two defenders before releasing his winger who unluckily put a foot in touch with a clear run to the line. Shortly after this the Bucs 10 made a break from a ruck on the short side close to the line and opened their account. The outstanding Morgan added another try shortly afterwards. Weaver collected the kick-off with Kyle Pinto making good ground with the ball. Chris Lor, on at 9 for the injured Oguni, whipped a pass out to Morgan whose arcing run took him between the 10 and 12 and beat the flailing flanker to restore the lead.
When asked by a journalist what his favourite rugby moment was as a player the legendary Dean Richards, of Lions winning Series, two 5 Nations Grand Slams with England and a Rugby World Cup final to boot fame answered “the day Olivier Merle retired”; Merle being a gargantuan 322lb French lock of the 90s who couldn’t move much but could throw a punch like no other. Rugby Union was a very different game back then. Those associated with the club will remember with great fondness Godzilla himself, Greg Hall who caused consternation and left a trail of bodies every time he touched the ball. All opposition players who had the misfortune to come up against Godzilla will have appreciated Richards sentiments when he retired and had one less thing to worry about when suiting up against the Pigs. This Godzilla-sized hole looks to have been filled by The Beast, Max Grouette, whose punishing runs and hits reinforced the decision of those who recently retired that they made the right decision. One such rumble up the touchline provided quick ruck ball for Lor to release his backs. Jake Yune running at 13 made a lovely break and switched with Taylor Nash who was tackled in the 22. Weaver picked and drove and then Morgan and Yune combined beautifully to put Nash in at the corner to score.
The Bucs were not to be deterred turning over the ball at a ruck with their 10 breaking the initial tackle and running unopposed from 30 metres out to score his and his team’s second try. A De Ree tackle in the Bucs half led to turnover ball with Reilly and O’Neill making big inroads with the ball. Stopped 5 metres out the latter offloaded to Matt Riggs who crashed over for the Pigs fifth try.
Ian Davies, who can now be seen running through Yorkville at lunchtimes with levels of panache that would shame a Lipizzaner, gathered the restarted and menacingly, looked for the nearest contact to set up a ruck. Yune set Nash free who made huge ground before being tackled into touch. Schwitzer claimed the lineout and Reilly broke forward before passing to Lor to score a very popular try.
The final word must go The Beast though. The saying goes that bad luck comes in threes. A combined Jordan Moss and Schwitzer tackle forced a knock on which was bad fortune for the Bucs. Their second piece of bad fortune was that it fell into the hands of The Beast. The third saw The Beast go forth in a body position so low and powerful that not even the combined force of The Avengers could have stopped him at such short range so pity the poor Bucs flanker that valiantly tried and understandably failed to accomplish this thankless task. Through him he went and The Beast fell over to score the Pigs seventh and final try of a highly entertaining and absorbing game.
Upcoming games against The Beach will resolutely test the resolve and mettle of the Pigs but if Cornford and Chambers can engineer another two victories on the road then even Messrs. Goode and Kimball may have to consider the merits of tofu and open-toed sandals. Wouldn’t that be a sight folks?
Bay Street RFC understands the need to balance a busy schedule with rugby. We pride ourselves on a flexible approach to team preparation and talent management, while maintaining rugby excellence playing in the Toronto Rugby Union.
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Dir. of Rugby
St. John O'Connor