The Chuckanut Bay Rugby Club’s U14 team took home the B.C. Lower Mainland Rugby League Championship after a rousing win against the Vancouver Rowers Club: Rugby Section.
Three boys from Blaine – Brady Otto, Devyn Dickinson and Cody Goucher – play on the Chuckanut Bay team, which practices in Bellingham and competes in both the British Columbia Rugby Union (BCRU) and Washington Rugby youth leagues.
Coach Todd Vasey said the April 26 game at John Oliver Park in Delta was the culmination of a fantastic season in Canada for the Chuckanut Bay Steamers. The team not only won their league championship, but was also declared champion of the two-day Lower Mainland Festival Bowl.
“In that age range, the BCRU is very competitive, so it felt really good to win,” Vasey said. “Since Canada is part of the British Commonwealth, and rugby is huge in Britain, rugby is to them what football is to America.”
Rugby parent Brad Otto was at the April 26 match in Vancouver, and said it was a hard-fought game that was fun to watch.
“The Rowers are a good team with a long winning tradition, and they played well but we battled hard and came out with the win,” Otto said. The Steamers won 57–45.
Based on their strong season in the BCRU, the Steamers were invited to participate in the Canadian National Age-Grade tournament in Vancouver August 7–11. Vasey said U-14 through U-16 Steamers will face off against teams from across Canada.
“That will be a fun tournament,” Vasey said. “Some of the east coast teams are pretty tough.”
Another win against Seattle’s Eastside Rugby Club on April 27 secured the Steamers a bye in the first round of the Washington Rugby U14 championship tournament, as well as the home field advantage in the semi finals, which are scheduled for May 11.
“Washington rugby is growing quickly,” Vasey said. “We’ve had some really successful players come out of our system, including a couple of guys who now play for the Eagles (the U.S. national rugby team).”
Shawn Pittman and Nick Wallace, both products of the Chuckanut Bay youth rugby program, now play for the Eagles and are hopefuls for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Vasey added that although many of the players on the Steamers youth team have been playing together for years, the team had several newcomers who have been pivotal to their winning season.
“It’s a sport that newcomers can pick up quickly,” Vasey said. “We’re always open to newcomers, and anyone who comes out gets playing time.”
He encouraged anyone interested in joining to check out the Cuckanut Bay rugby website, chuckanutrugby.com