In an end-to-end exhibition rugby match, Powell River Otago Rugby Club dropped a 53-29 score to a very experienced Nanaimo Hornets side.
In a game played at Cranberry Field on Saturday, August 31, eight players from the Otago club were reinforced with five members of the Comox Valley Kickers Rugby Club, plus some top players from the Hornets, to field a competitive side.
Otago coach Jack Beardmore said anyone who has an interest in rugby will be disappointed they were not at Cranberry Field because it was one heck of a rugby game.
“Those guys played their butts off,” said Beardmore.
It was back and forth all game.
“I have to give credit to Simon Fitzgerald, the Nanaimo coach,” added Beardmore. “The three players he gave us were absolute quality players. One was a Canada reserve player and the others were premier league players, so that was a gift in itself.”
Beardmore said the hope was to have a good, fun, competitive game, and that’s what was accomplished.
He said the game was definitely first division-level rugby.
Some of the locals acquitted themselves well in the game, according to Beardmore. Sawyer Gowan, Otago’s left winger, scored two tries.
“He played the best game he’s ever played,” said Beardmore. “By virtue of having those players inside of him getting that ball to him so quick, he made the best use of it.”
Beardmore said all Powell River players who participated played above their heads in the exhibition game.
“Sid Allman had a phenomenal game and he hasn’t played in a while,” said Beardmore. “He came back and hooked and did a very good job. Other than the lineout throw-ins, he did great.”
This past weekend’s contest proves the ability to play good rugby exists in the community and the players can step up if they are in a position to do so. Now that Otago has that game under its belt, Comox has suggested the teams play another game this fall.
After the game, Beardmore said he had three more people come up to him and say they were going to start training again.
“The whole purpose of the game was to spark that interest,” said Beardmore. “It was also lovely to see that many people come out to the game and watch. We appreciated it. If we can get that kind of support from the community, it makes a big difference. I figure there were about 150 people there.”
It also helped to have the enthusiasm from the visiting Nanaimo Hornets, who brought 26 players to Powell River. The Nanaimo coach told Beardmore he had to cut it off because they couldn’t get any more people on the bus.
“They’ve all heard about Powell River and they wanted to come,” said Beardmore. “We’ve still got a good name as far as people travelling here.”
Beardmore said he wanted to thank the city parks department for doing a phenomenal job of field preparation, and Brooks Secondary School for allowing Otago to use its vans to transport players.