Quins see silver lining
Brantford men’s rugby team topped in Canadian club championship final
Despite falling in finals for two straight weeks, Brantford Harlequins men’s rugby coach Dave Neill is looking at the bright side.
“The results are disappointing but that’s sports,” said Neill, whose team lost in the McCormick Cup provincial championship on Sept. 29 before losing in the Canadian Rugby Club Championship on Sunday.
“As much as guys were disappointed to lose in back-to-back finals, it was great to have been there.”
And even though the results weren’t what the team had hoped for, its record over the past three seasons has been beyond exceptional.
Brantford, the two-time defending McCormick Cup champs, were hoping for a third straight title late last month but those hopes were dashed with a loss to the Markham Irish.
However, the Harlequins had a shot at redemption at the Canadian championship, which was being held for the first time in more than a decade.
Brantford qualified for the Canadian championship weekend with a win in the quarterfinals against Montreal in early September.
First up for the Harlequins in B.C. at the Canadian championship on the weekend were the Edmonton Nor’Westers, who Brantford beat 34-18 in the semifinals.
Neill said his team played well against Edmonton, getting over mistakes made in the McCormick Cup final.
“No doubt we were up against a tough team and I think that game took a lot out of us.”
Neill said Edmonton has a large, physical pack and many of those forwards were named to the tournament’s all-star squad.
Next up in the final were UBC Old Boys Ravens.
In B.C., teams are just getting their seasons underway while Ontario teams are finishing theirs. Neill said the Ravens had alternated with games and byes to start the first four weeks of their seasons.
“They had 30 players and started five fresh players in the final . . . but they were a better team,” Neill admitted.
“The scoreline definitely got away from us.”
With a couple of minutes left in the first half of the championship, Brantford was down 14-3 and pushing to score. But, the ball ended up going all the way down to the Harlequins end and following a late converted try by the Ravens, the deficit was 21-3.
“That was about all the gas we had, really,” said Neill, whose team wound up on the wrong side of a 41-3 decision.
“We’re still happy with the rugby we played,” the coach said. “Watching the games and looking at the statistical breakdown, we’re still accomplishing a lot of things that we set out to do.
“And we’re still playing a game the fans enjoy and we can be proud of.”
Neill said his players enjoyed the experience in B.C. and were thrilled that some fans travelled to see them play. Now they can now start thinking about next season, with training ramping up in January.
Neill said team has a solid foundation for success.
“We’ve built a really good culture in Brantford,” he said.
“I think we’ll look to continue to push the level and raise the pace of the game.”
We’ve built a really good culture in Brantford.” Harlequins coach David Neill
The Brantford Harlequins recently returned from B.C. where they won silver at the Canadian Rugby Club Championship.