Oak Bay High toppled the toppled defending champion Shawnigan Lake School Stags 24-13 in the B.C. boys’ high school 4A rugby championship at Rotary Stadium in Abbotsford last Friday.
“There’s some definite advantages public schools have in this situation,” said coach Peter Atkinson, taking pride in the kids from the local community earning top honour in the top tier of high school rugby. The Oak Bay team includes a solid group of athletes who “got hooked into rugby early.”
Oak Bay, captained by Tom Abercrombie, led 17-5 at the half. It was a reprise of this year’s Island final, won 20-15 by Oak Bay over Shawnigan. Grade 11 fly-half Jack Carson, part of the Barbs’ deep roster that includes his cousin and Grade 12 standout Nick Carson, got Oak Bay off to a quick start in the game June 1, scoring the first two tries. Lachlan Kratz was named to the Commissioner’s 15 All Star team.
It is Oak Bay’s first B.C. championship since 2003 versus Shawnigan Lake School’s eight of the past nine provincial championships. After finishing as the top public school (third) the last three years, the win is that much sweeter for coach Peter Atkinson.
A public school hasn’t won in a decade (Carson Graham in 2008) and “it’s been dominated by Shawinigan ever since,” said Atkinson.
Atkinson planned for this year’s athletes ahead, organizing a trip to Spain and Portugal for spring break, where they went undefeated against some top teams. “That really allowed the team to gel,” Atkinson said.
The Barbs went in to provincials as the top ranked team, after losing to both private schools earlier in the year, they defeated Shawnigan for the Island title as well. Atkinson knew they’d have a solid shot at the title.
“There’s not one strategy you can defend against. We play all over the filed … it’s tough to defend against,” Atkinson said. “We had to just not get tight, play loose and play the kind of game we can play.”
All 15 on the field and those on the bench deserve a nod, he says. “If you’re going to compete against Shawnigan you can’t have any weak spots and we have none.”
The senior boys rugby team loses about 20 of the 25 team members next year. Those remaining are solid leaders and he sees yet another brood of promising athletes moving up the ladder.
Under coaches Atkinson, Koji Zolbrod, Ben Turner and Adam Bate this is Oak Bay’s 9th overall provincial rugby championship.
@OakBayHigh are your 2018 AAAA Provincial Champions taking home the Woodward Shield, the first public school to do so since @carsonsecondary did it in 2008!— BCSSRU-School Rugby (@BCSchoolRugby) June 2, 2018
Well done to all of the Oak Bay players and coaches!!!@BCRugbyNews @bcrugbyunion @BCSchoolSports @htsumura @risingaction