Angry Bears rugby squad lays beating on Saints
The Banff men’s rugby team has a message for the rest of the Division II league: don’t poke an angry bear.
Grumpy following a home loss and a rain out, Banff obliterated everything in their path Saturday (June 16), showing no mercy on the Calgary Saints while delivering a 27-7 beating at the Banff Rec Grounds. The win brings Banff’s record to 4-1 in what will be a hotly contested division.
Hit everything appeared to be Banff’s approach to the match, as the home squad’s big bodies brought mayhem and pain to the field. Alan Mee and Michael Fernie led the hit parade, breeding fear in the Saints forwards.
“The Saints are a good, strong team, but this was the best we played as a squad. The team worked better together and we felt the pressure to do well on our home squad,” said team manager Mark ‘Hoops’ Hooper.
The Banff Rec Grounds has been hallowed ground for the home rugby field in years past, however they stumbled last year with a few sub-par efforts. This year, they appear set to regain their form.
Hooper led the attack himself, scoring three tries, but gave credit to his teammates for allowing him to do his job.
“I was lucky the guys would get me to the 10-yard line and I’d do what I do best, which is put my head down and run,” Hooper said.
He was proud of his team.
“We want to be silent assassins – have everyone calm down and do their own good honest, work,” Hooper said.
The home squad was just that. After trading tries early on, Iain Ramsay gave Banff the lead with a goal line push, storming through the Saints defence. The visitors took offence with Ramsay’s effort, as he was cut open for stitches shortly into the second half.
Hooper went to work midway through the second half, as the weakened Saints lineup couldn’t stop his bull meets china shop charge on offence. He added back-to-back tries to put the game out of reach at 22-7.
In the dying minutes, hometown hero and former captain of the Banff Community High School boys rugby team Matthew Soukas ran down a loose ball and charged in for the first try of his young Calgary Rugby Union career. Overjoyed with his first score, Soukas, in an uncharacteristic rugby move, tossed the ball.
That didn’t impress team captain Steve Lower.
“He scores and celebrates like he’s won the Stanley Cup. He’ll be punished for that,” Lower said with a smirk. “But the new guys showed a lot of heart.”
The youthful squad has many rookies pushing for jobs and Soukas is in that group. He said he’s not planning to change his celebration.
“In rugby they always say you can’t celebrate a try. But why not? It’s good to get a try. It’s the best feeling ever,” Soukas said.
“The young guys are breeding confidence in me,” Hooper said. “They’re making my job tough in picking who plays.
“BCHS coach John Petroff deserves a lot of recognition. He’s been doing the grassroots work for rugby in the community.”
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