Consider the Mountain Eagles to be flying ahead of schedule.
“This was a building year,” admitted Rob Hayes, the coach of the Mountain senior boys rugby team.
“We knew that we only had a couple of Grade 12s and it was mostly made of Grade 11s, so we did not have high expectations.”
But the Eagles have qualified for the B.C. 2A provincial rugby championships, alongside another local squad, the Poppy Redhawks.
The Redhawks were second in the Fraser Valley championships and qualified automatically for B.C.’s. But Mountain finished fourth in the Fraser Valley playoffs and needed to win a wild-card qualifier game to earn their berth, which they did, 15-5 against Clearwater-Barriere.
This is the second straight year Mountain has qualified for provincials. Previous to that, the school had not made the B.C. tournament since 1989.
“We are fit, young fast team that tries to spin the ball wide and attack on the outside,” Hayes said.
This year’s team has just two Grade 12s on the roster and they are ranked 14th out of 16 teams heading into provincials.
Last year, the team was 15th heading into the year-end tournament but emerged ninth.
“We just want to play competitive rugby and gain experience for next year,” Hayes said.
“We must come to the field with a positive attitude and strive to become better every time we step on the pitch.”
Mountain opens the provincial champions against No. 3 Collingwood at St. George’s School in Vancouver while No. 9 Poppy faces No. 8 Brentwood College in Mill Bay. Both games are on Saturday (May 23).
Following the first day, the provincial championships will resume at Abbotsford’s Rotary Stadium May 27 to 30.