The Fulton Maroons won the Okanagan Valley Senior AA Boys Rugby Union title in bizarre fashion Thursday afternoon at Grahame Park.
Dalton Anderson scored a try and the Maroons were lining up to attempt a conversion when Kalamalka Laker coach Ian Busfield walked onto the field and called his team off after a series of penalties and injuries.
Referee Wes Fitzsimmons of Vernon ruled the game a 7-0 forfeit for the Maroons.
“It was definitely not how our team wanted to win the valley championship,” said Fulton coach Rick Smith. “We had a number of tap penalties awarded to us as Kal was scrambling to prevent us from scoring. Eventually a yellow card was given to a Kal player for continuously ‘spoiling’ the ball illegally, especially after just being warned about it. He was sent to the sin bin.”
Fulton pressured again right off the kickoff and had one player taken to hospital with a chest injury, and a Kal player was also hurt.
“There was no hard feelings between the opposition players and me as we shook hands,” said Smith.
Fulton, which repeats as Okanagan champions, are seeded fifth out of 16 in the provincials and will take on 12th-place Okanagan Mission Huskies (for the third time this season), Saturday in Kamloops.
The remainder of the B.C. finals go June 1-4, in Abbotsford. Kal is seeded ninth and will play eighth-place Aldergrove Totems in their first-round match.
The Maroons will hold a bottle drive today from 3-7 p.m. in the Landing area. Empties may be dropped off at Fulton during the same hours.
In junior boys semifinal action Thursday, the VSS Panthers ambushed the Merritt Panthers 53-10.
Colton Klein supplied four tries, while Jesse Hubner had two and singles came from Ryan Messer, Matt Forsyth and Wade Buller, who was 4-for-9 on conversions.
Merritt’s bus was 15 minutes late so they only had a short warm-up and VSS pounced on them, scoring early and often.
“Our guys were relentless in their attack,” said VSS coach Tim Thorpe. “It was wave after wave of attack, bringing speed and tenacity which really wore the opposition down. Our backs had a great day running the ball as we wanted to get them the ball in time and space and stay away from their huge forward pack. This worked well, although I must say our forwards held their own against a much bigger Merritt squad.”
VSS consistently beat Merritt to the ball and held a huge advantage with ball possession.
“Speed definitely beat size today,” said Thorpe. “Today we came to play and we dominated a big team who haven’t lost all year. We’ll need to bring more of the same when we face a tough KSS (Kelowna Owls) team on Wednesday in the Valley final.”
On Klein, Thorpe said: “Colton Klein was a beast for us scoring four tries. When he gets the ball at speed he is very tough to take down. His size and speed are intimidating to would-be tacklers, especially when he starts running with those high knees.
“Taylor McKnight also had a huge game for us at scrum-half. He had never played the position before in a game but did an excellent job of digging the ball out of the rucks and delivering it to our backs. He also had some long runs of his own which were impressive.”
The junior Maroons watched their season end with a 36-7 loss to the Owls Thursday.
“Obviously it was not the way we wanted to end our season but our kids fought hard all game. In the end, the score flatters them, but they were definitely the better side.”
The Owls, who scored a couple of late tries to expand the score, used their advantage in manpower to swarm the Maroons in the second half.
“They had 40 players, we had 18. In junior rugby, you can sub in as many players as you want, and eventually they wore us down with sheer numbers and substitutions.”
The Maroons kept it close in the first half, holding their share of territorial possession to trail 12-7 at the break.
Flanker Lucas Hofer recorded Fulton’s lone try on a terrific solo effort.
Scheller praised Tristan Rezanson for his consistent tackling, prop Vance Ford for his aggressive rucking, and standoff Sean Greene for his all-around effort.
“It was a great season for us – North Zone champs, and we could not be happier with the toughness and effort shown all year by our kids.”
Scheller thanked assistant coaches Shane Gaythorpe and Kevin Stecyk for their hard work and dedication, and student managers Jalayne Jones, Krysten Ververda and Whitney Jacura for all their assistance to the squad.