(VANCOUVER, BC) – The Ontario Junior Blues Sevens program took part in the 2017 Canadian Rugby 7s U18 Championships this past weekend, in Burnaby and Vancouver. Four teams represented Rugby Ontario in the tournament; two women’s teams and two men’s teams. The four teams represented the province well, culminated by one first place finish, two second place finishes and one fourth place finish. Congratulations to the players, coaches and managers on a successful weekend.
The Junior Blues Women’s teams were strong favourites out of the gate at Nationals, with two strong sides travelling to Nationals. In pre-tournament play, the two sides participated in the Eastern 7s tournament in Kingston, Ontario against Quebec and a Canadian Sevens Academy (CSA) team. Ontario 1 took the tournament, defeating Quebec in the finals, while Ontario 2 finished third with a win over CSA.
This tournament included increased competition and the addition of powerhouse host British Columbia, who proved to be a dominant force from the beginning. In their first games, Ontario 1 met Manitoba, winning 37-5; while Ontario 2 was tested early with a matchup against British Columbia, ultimately losing 39-0.
In their second pool matchups, Ontario 1 drew New Brunswick, while Ontario 2 faced Newfoundland. Ontario 1 defeated New Brunswick by a score of 41-0, while Ontario 2 bounced back from their first game loss, defeating Newfoundland 47-0.
With a record of 2-0 and 1-1 respectively, Ontario 1 and Ontario 2 both booked their ticket to the Quarter Finals where Ontario 1 defeated Quebec by a score of 53-0 and Ontario 2 defeated Manitoba 24-5.
Ontario 1 matched up against Alberta in the semi-finals, while Ontario 2 would meet a familiar foe in British Columbia. Ontario 1 won a thriller over Alberta 26-22, winning on a last-minute try. Ontario 2’s speed and determination were once again not enough against a strong BC side and they lost 31-0.
Ontario 2 would ultimately meet Alberta in the bronze medal match. The Junior Blues went into the half down 14-7 and could not mount a comeback, losing 21-14 to cap off a respectable performance at Nationals, with a fourth-place finish.
With their semi-final win, Ontario 1 booked their ticket to BC Place, where they met the host side. The Junior Blues came out flying, which resulted in back-and-forth action in the first half. The teams were deadlocked at five points a side going into the second half. The second half then became a defensive battle, with BC recording the only try of the half, as well as a successful conversion to win the match 12-7. The Ontario 1 Junior Blues capped off an excellent tournament by being awarded a silver medal.
The men’s teams came into the tournament with two sides, as well. Ontario 1’s first contest came against Newfoundland, while Ontario 2 matched up against a strong Quebec side. Ontario 1 won by a decisive 38-0 margin, while Ontario 2 won 26-14 over their neighbours to the east.
Next up, Ontario 1 drew New Brunswick, while Ontario 2 would take on the host British Columbia side. It was deja-vu for Ontario 1, as they defeated New Brunswick by a score of 38-0. Ontario 2 on the other hand were in tough against the strong BC side, losing a tough contest by a score of 21-14.
In their third pool match, Ontario 1 faced a strong Alberta side, while Ontario 2 met the Nova Scotia Keltics. Ontario 1 conceded their first points of the tournament, but came out on top over Alberta 14-7. Ontario 2 displayed their offensive skills early and often against Nova Scotia, winning 25-0 in their match.
The fourth and final pool match for the Junior Blues saw Ontario 1 match up with Saskatchewan and Ontario 2 with Manitoba. Ontario 1 took their match 61-0, securing a first-place pool finish and a bye into the semi-finals. Ontario 2 defeated Manitoba 46-0, finishing fourth out of the round robin and matching them with Nova Scotia in the quarters.
In their quarterfinals, Ontario 2 came out strong early and did not look back, defeating Nova Scotia by a score of 41-0. With the win, the Ontario 2 side booked a spot in the semi-finals alongside Ontario 1. They both faced familiar foes, as Ontario 2 matched up against British Columbia and Ontario 1 would meet Alberta.
The semi-final matches both came down to the wire and with the two contests happening at the same time, with fields directly beside each other, the Blues players couldn’t help but gaze over to see how their Ontario colleagues were faring. The Ontario 1 vs. Alberta semifinal was a nail-biter from the beginning and the two teams were deadlocked at 5-5 at half. Captain Kevin Vertkas took control in the second half, though with a late try to secure a 10-5 win and a spot in the finals. At the same time, Ontario 2 were in tough against British Columbia and the Blues entered halftime down 14-7. The team came out rejuvenated in the second half and put on a defensive and offensive clinic, coming back to defeat British Columbia 17-14.
The two teams met in celebration at the end of their matches, knowing that they would be facing each other the next day at BC Place. The stage was set for an All-Ontario final and it was clear that the Junior Blues would take home both Gold and Silver at the Canadian Rugby 7s U18 Championships.
David Richard continued his dominant performance for Ontario 1 in the final and helped the Ontario 1 side defeat Ontario 2 by a score of 29-7. The Junior Blues Men’s 1 took home the Gold, while Ontario 2 took home the silver.
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