UBCOB Ravens vs Houston SaberCats

January 13 2018


UBCOB Ravens
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UBCOB Ravens Defeat Houston SaberCats 26-23 - Comeback from 17-0 Down


It was billed as a top amateur side versus an upcoming pro side and at the beginning it looked like the pros would have another blowout win as they quickly went up 17-0. Visions of the 50-7 Houston win last weekend over Seattle Saracens was resonating loudly.

The SaberCats came out strong, the Ravens just arriving the evening before were still getting adjusted. Houston continuing on from last week scored two tries through the backline (#15 Pangelinan, #11 Vici) with barely 10 minutes gone, BC Rugby fans were doing the math, a try every 5 minutes didn't add up well. Both were unconverted it was 10-0. The game settled down, it took Houston over 10 minutes to get their next try, this time through the forwards (#4 Allen) but converted, 17-0 with a quarter of the match gone.

The next 10 minutes belonged to the Ravens, finally waking up, Houston received a yellow card and that was the spark the Ravens needed. Jon Phelan scored making it 17-7, Adam McQueen hit a penalty next and it was a match at 17-10. Seattle received their second yellow as the first expired but they held on and the half ended 17-10.

Houston struck first in the second half with a penalty kick by #15 Pangelinan and it was 20-10. Five minutes later Aaron McLelland works his magic, finds a gap and Ravens are over the line, now only down 20-17. At the 60 minute mark Adam McQueen ties the match up at 20-20 with a penalty.


Aaron McLelland takes on Houston defender

The teams trade penalties and it's now a tense 23-23 match with 5 minutes left.

The Ravens have closed down the potent SaberCats attack, outside of the first 20 minutes they haven't allowed them to score a try. It's anyone's match now. With 3 minutes left Adam McQueen gets another shot at a penalty and he's been on fire tonight, he hits it and now the Ravens just have to hold on. Vici gets the ball with time running down, he's scored a try already but the Fijian gets bundled into touch, the whistle blows and the Ravens celebrate.

How can the result be interpreted? The top teams in the BC Premier can compete with any other team in North America. We've known that top level amateur rugby in BC, at the present time, is as good as it gets in North America. Pro Rugby and the MLR are just starting so this is a benchmark, we would expect eventually the pro league will start to increase the gap, that's the way it should work. As the VRU mentioned on social media, "Imagine what these players might be capable of if they trained & played together full time". Hopefully we'll find out in a year's time.



In 2019 there will be an MLR team in Vancouver, hopefully by 2020 there would be one in Victoria as well. BC has the talent, if we can give players the opportunity to be full time rugby players, Canadian rugby will get better. In the meantime we'll just bask in the fact that one of our top amateur rugby teams, practicing twice a week in the evenings, is able to defeat a pro team just starting its journey.

RAVENS
1 Curtis Delmonico
2 Paul Ahn
3 Dimitri Gotsopoulos
4 Jon Phelan
5 Sam Clarke
6 Nick Waggot
7 Simon Etheve
8 Karl Moran
9 AJ King
10 Harjun Gill
11 Sean Ferguson
12 Adam McQueen
13 Cully Quirke
14 Graham Turner
15 Aaron McLelland
16 Marc Belvedere
17 Matias Suez
18 Trystan Clironomos
19 David O'Donoghue
20 Kol Henrikson
21 Ben Grant
22 Thomas McGrath
23 James Thompson
24 Callum Morrison
25 Michael Green

HOUSTON




Ravens Travel to Houston to Take on SaberCats: Top Amateur Team Takes on Upcoming Pro Team


It's an exciting time in North American rugby with the advent of professional rugby. There were always going to be struggles, we saw one league under the control of a single individual try and fail last year. Things were learned and now another pro league, Major League Rugby, is ready to give it a shot under a more robust ownership structure.

The MLR season starts in April but Houston are keen to get going and are into their second exhibition match already. They defeated Seattle Saracens last weekend 50-7 and this weekend face the Vancouver Ravens. Well they're not exactly the Vancouver Ravens but why complicate things for the good folks in Houston who want to make it simple to sell the game to local sports fans. The name UBCOB Ravens or UBC Old Boy Ravens doesn't quite sell to an American market but Vancouver Ravens will do quite nicely. So for this weekend, in Houston, they are the Vancouver Ravens, another great trivia question down the road.

Before going further perhaps it's time to learn a little about the UBCOB history, this is from their website:
The UBC Old Boys Ravens came into being in 1974 when a group of graduates from the University of British Columbia, who had been coached by national coach Donn Spence and which included many young aspiring national and provincial players, decided to form their own team. They were interested in playing wide-open, entertaining, running rugby with an emphasis on letting the ball do the work. They also wished to maintain a close link with the university and their former coach Donn Spence. In keeping with native folklore, the "Thunderbird" emblem of UBC became the "Raven" of the graduate team. The new team colours of red, white and blue represented the blue of UBC, the white of the British Columbia provincial team and the red, that of the Canadian National team.
The Ravens travel down Friday, arriving in Houston Friday evening. For an amateur team where players hold other jobs, one extra day off work is a luxury - another difference between pro and amateur rugby. The team won't have a practice session in Houston but a stretch Saturday afternoon and then the game at 7pm. It's home again on Sunday.

The game isn't streamed, there will be an audio play by play and we'll post the link when it's available.

We reached out to coach James Thompson on the expectations for the team and this was his reply, "We are respectful of the fact that we are playing professional players and that it will be a huge challenge, but we know on any given day we have the capabilities of beating anyone. Many of our players have aspirations to play professional rugby and this will provide a great opportunity for those guys in particular to test themselves on a bigger stage. We will come out and play fast running rugby and hope our brand will cause the Sabercats some problems. We are very proud to represent BC Rugby, Vancouver & Canada and we will be doing everything we can to come away with a win."

The team is almost full strength, they are missing Chris Taylor, the former Ireland U20 tighthead prop who helped UBC win a couple of BC Premier championships before coming to the Ravens. They are also missing Garrett Garbe, the veteran prop and stalwart of the team.

It should be an entertaining match and hopefully a closer scoreline than last weekend's match vs Seattle.

UBCOB RAVENS (AKA VANCOUVER RAVENS)

1 Curtis Delmonico
2 Paul Ahn
3 Dimitri Gotsopoulos
4 Jon Phelan
5 Sam Clarke
6 Nick Waggot
7 Simon Etheve
8 Karl Moran
9 AJ King
10 Harjun Gill
11 Sean Ferguson
12 Adam McQueen
13 Cully Quirke
14 Graham Turner
15 Aaron McLellan
16 Marc Belvedere
17 Matias Suez
18 Trystan Clironomos
19 David O'Donoghue
20 Kol Henrikson
21 Ben Grant
22 Thomas McGrath
23 James Thompson
24 Callum Morrison
25 Michael Green

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