The Valley Rugby Union’s Division 1 mens’ team gave the visiting PEI Mudmen a run for their money when they arrived in Windsor — and the Valley coach couldn’t be more pleased.
“It was a very back-and-forth game. PEI got up early and then we battled back and kept it close,” said Axel Lawrence, a playing coach for the Valley Rugby Union’s Division 1 team, in a phone interview.
“We went up by one point with about 10 minutes to go and they scored again to go up by four.”
As the clock ticked down on July 20, the Valley team kept the pressure on but couldn’t catch the break they needed. After 80 minutes of playing in 30-plus C temperature, they lost 30-26.
“We were pretty close to coming back a few times. We had the ball down in their end. We were unlucky,” said Lawrence. “We just couldn’t punch that last one in before the time ran out.”
Lawrence scored a try in the losing effort, and Ian Amour scored three times. Jayden McEvoy kicked in three conversions.
With PEI being considered the team to beat as they’ve won the league title two years in a row, Lawrence said the close game score shows the talent that VRU has.
“It was a big step forward for the club, to show that we can compete against the top teams,” he said.
Although they lost, the VRU received the maximum points available for a loss. They received a point for scoring four tries and a point for keeping the game loss to within seven points.
Lawrence said this near-win bodes well for the team’s psyche when they play next.
The mens’ Division 1 team will travel to Pictou for a bout July 27 before hosting the Halifax Tars Aug. 10 at Benedict Soccer Field on Collins Road in Port Williams. There will be four games that day — with the Division 1 and Division 2 mens’ and womens’ teams taking the pitch. The games will be held at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Due to the success of hosting a refreshment tent on the sidelines at their last two home games, Lawrence said that’s something they’re planning to continue, which the team hopes will entice more rugby fans to come out and enjoy the game.
The Division 2 mens’ team also took on PEI July 20 but suffered a considerable loss. Lawrence attributes that to fatigue, largely due to several of the players pulling duty double and being called up to help in the Division 1 match.
“For them, it was a long day. The weather was 30-something degrees with the humidity. A good chunk of them played that first Division 1 game. They just kind of ran out of steam,” said Lawrence.
But on the positive side, Lawrence said two Under 18 Team Nova Scotia rugby players — Ethan Salsman and Jayce Phillips, who hail from Avon View High School — made their debut.
“I think they both played great games,” said Lawrence.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what else they bring for the rest of the year.”