Newfoundland win their first national title with 26-13 victory over Saskatchewan's Praire Fire
posted Aug 15 2005
Well it was bound to happen and it only took eight years. The East finally won the RCSL championship initiated in 1998. From a BC point of view, if a team from the East had to win, then it might as well be Newfoundland. BC has won six out of the eight championships with Calgary and now Newfoundland each holding the trophy once. Some of the names on the Rock team will look familiar to BC rugby fans: Rod Snow, of course, the Canadian and Newport prop; Tyler Wish who played for University of Victoria and probably for the Crimson Tide at some point; Mike Simpson, who was one of the outstanding players on the Pacific Pride team last year before his season ending injury; Sean O'Leary, Meralomas second row player and also Pacific Pride alumni; Mike Webb, previous captain of the Pride; Kevin Parfrey another Pacific Pride graduate.
It was interesting to read the two newspaper accounts from the respective cities, first the St. John's Telegram which gave the story top billing on its front page and secondly the Regina Leader-Post which gave the story second billing on its sports page. The stories are appended below and again congratulations to Newfoundland, it seems they know how to celebrate the victory in true rugby fashion.
ROCK VICTORY ONE FOR HISTORY
By JOHN BROWNE, The Telegram
You could call them the magnificent 15 and you wouldn’t be stretching the hyperbole one iota.
The Rock rugby team’s 26-13 come-from-behind victory over Saskatchewan Prairie Fire to win the Rugby Canada Super League championship here Saturday night was a match that will go down in history as one of the greatest achievements in this province’s sports history.
Most of the players credited their superb conditioning as the deciding factor, but it wasn’t so much the size of their muscles as it was the size of their hearts.
At the final whistle, The Rock players raised their arms in triumph. Coach Pat Parfrey was about to run out on the field and join them, but instead turned and hugged assistant coach Simon Blanks like a long-lost brother.
Then everyone hugged longtime assistant coach Frank Deacy.
“Dece, don’t have a heart attack,” laughed Blanks as the players mobbed one another.
By this point the laughter was already mixed with tears of joy.
Aside from five minutes at the start and five minutes at the end of the first half, The Rock were outplayed by the host team in the first 40 minutes.
The Rock had trouble in the lineouts and difficulty penetrating the Fire’s defence when they had the ball. They also left several points on the field due to inaccurate kicking.
Those mistakes allowed The Fire to take a 13-3 lead into half time.
But quitting was never an option and The Rock responded with a flawless second-half performance to earn the glory after two failures at home in the RCSL finals.
“There was no way we were going to give up, no way,” said Rock captain Peter Densmore.
“After we got our first try, you could see things changing. And when we tied the game up and got into the next scrum, the look on their faces was, ‘God, no.’ You could see it in their eyes,” Densmore said.
And as it turned out, the rest of the second half was an entirely different story which turned into a fairy tale ending for the Newfoundland side.
“Simply put, we kicked the living shit out of them in the second half, and you can quote me on that,” said coach Parfrey, who has often been more eloquent, but seldom more accurate in his assessment of a match.
“Both teams worked hard in the first half,” he said, “but we upped the pace in the second half and our fitness kicked in.
“It’s the first national title for a Newfoundland rugby team and I think this is probably the best Newfoundland team of any sport we’ve ever had. We’ve been to three national finals and now they are the national champions.”
Rod Snow, the former Welsh pro now playing the game out of loyalty to his province, delivered a devastating hit early in the second half and The Rock began to roll.
“We knew they had a big, tough team, but we felt the longer we stayed in the game, the better chance we had to win,” said Snow.
“I was just desperate to win, so you go out and lay your body on the line,” Snow added, his voice breaking with emotion. “We knew we had it in us even though we trailed at halftime. We made a few mistakes, but 10 minutes into the second half we knew they were getting tired.”
“This feeling is unbelievable,” Ken Goodland added.
“They just keep coming at us,” said the Fire’s Jason Carson. “I think this experience will benefit us in the long run.”
Of course, there were more than 15 players responsible for The Rock’s win.
The substitutes such as Mike Webb and Dave Penney, who was not fully fit, but fully prepared to put his body on the line, helped turn the tide.
There were the kids like Robert Wilson, Andrew Fagan and Ciaran Hearn, who struggled at times with his kicks, but carried the ball into the fray time and time again. And then there was veteran prop Frank Walsh, basically playing on one leg.
There were a lot of heroes on the windy prairie field Saturday night and most of them wore the maroon and white.
Wilson, Webb, Chris Mooney and Mike Simpson, out most of the season with an injury, each had one try for the Rock. Hearn kicked two penalties.
After singing happy birthday to coach Parfrey, the players hoisted their beloved coach on their shoulders and he led them in their infamous “F... ’em” cheer.
Rock scrumhalf Brendan Parfrey, whose smooth ball delivery kept The Rock in gear, was chosen the game’s MVP. Densmore accepted the championship MacTier Trophy and kissed it before raising it over his head.
Then, as the sunlight began to fade, the players broke into the Ode to Newfoundland. As dozens of Newfoundland supporters looked on, waving small provincial flags as well as the pink, white and green, the players lifted their voices to the heavens.
Many sang off key and a few didn’t seem sure of the words, but it never sounded sweeter.
Members of The Rock team are Frank Walsh, Peter Densmore, Rod Snow, Sean O’Leary, Chris Mooney, Andrew Fagan, Kevin Parfrey, Ken Goodland, Brendan Parfrey, Dean Blanks, Mike Simpson, Tyler Wish, Robert Wilson, Mike Rudofsky, Ciaran Hearn, Dale Pike, Dave Penney, Brad Lester, Mike Webb, Justin Meyers, Steve Hubley, Geoff Coughlan, Owen Parfrey, Wes Aylward, Colin Penney, Bobby Neville, Mike Yetman, coach Pat Parfrey, assistant coaches Simon Blanks, Frank Deacy and manager Bas Crosbie.
FIRE SNUFFED OUT BY NFLD'S ROCK
The Prairie Fire got rocked.
The Newfoundland Rock rolled to a 26-13 victory Saturday over the Fire in the Rugby Canada Super League final before 3,500 spectators at Regina Rugby Park. The Rock captured Newfoundland's first-ever Canadian rugby championship at any level by exploding for 23 unanswered second-half points.
"They played the second half like they have been here before and we played like we hadn't been here before,'' Fire captain Jered Kirkland said after his team squandered a 13-3 halftime lead. "We could make any excuse in the book but it doesn't matter. We were a little overconfident in the second half and we had a couple of costly errors that they came back to score on. That was the total TSN turning point.''
Both teams were 6-0 and were vying for their first Super League titles. The Rock had the edge in experience because it was its third appearance in the final four years. The third time in the final proved to be the charm as the Rock became the first East Division team to capture a Super League title since the loop was started in 1998.
"That was a goal of ours but it was more for the people back home,'' said Rock captain Peter Densmore. "There aren't a lot of players back home but the ones there are quality ones. We've been fortunate to get a lot of young people who have stayed together for five years. That's why we are national champions.''
Pat Parfrey, Newfoundland's head coach, was 2-0 against Saskatchewan teams Saturday. He guided Newfoundland and Labrador to 15-12 victory over Saskatchewan on Saturday morning to clinch fifth place at the Canada Summer Games. Later that night, Parfrey was lifted on the shoulders of his players while holding the massive Mac Tier cup, which is awarded to the Super League champions.
"In our other two finals, we were beaten by the better team,'' said Parfrey, who has been coaching in Canada since 1981. "We knew that we were fit and we knew in the second half that the Fire would be stretched a bit. We did turn it on in the second half.''
The first half belonged to the Fire, which appeared smaller than the burlier members of the Rock. Ciaran Hearn opened the scoring early with a penalty kick for the Rock.
The Fire rebounded with a try, a convert and two penalty kicks by Mark Sherwood.
The Fire went into the break confident but it was apparent that the Rock was coming on. That was especially evident by the play of prop Rod Snow, a former national team member who retired in May from professional rugby after a 10-year career in Wales.
Snow delivered two devastating blows to the Fire when he came over the top of a maul. The first was midway through the first half on centre Shane Thompson, which resulted in a warning from the referee and a successful penalty kick by Sherwood to give the Fire a 13-3 lead.
The second came in the second half when Snow blasted Fire prop Dave Wilson. The quasi-legal blast knocked the wind out of Wilson and left him with cracked ribs. No penalty was called on the play.
Rock scrumhalf Brendan Parfrey, Pat Parfrey's son, was named the man-of-the-match for his pinpoint passes and artistic direction of the Rock's offence. Snow was equally deserving of the recognition by altering the Fire's game with his physical play and presence.