Back in the fall, Andy Blackburn – Bayside’s director of men’s rugby – said it was the goal of the program to “absolutely… 100 per cent” return to the BC Premier League, the highest division of men’s rugby in the province.
And while they aren’t there yet, the last few months have seen the Sharks take some pretty impressive steps in the right direction, after Bayside’s Div. 1 team went 7-1 during the spring season, and the Div. 3 team went a perfect 8-0.
Last weekend at South Surrey Athletic Park, both teams won their first-round playoff tilts, too, with the first-division Sharks defeating the Castaway Wanderers 27-19 and the thirds winning 25-17 over Richmond. Levi Hansen was named MVP of the first-division contest and Dax Pearl earned most-valuable honours in the Div. 3 tilt.
Now, both sides will once again have home-field advantage in semifinals, which are set for this Saturday afternoon; the Div. 3 Sharks will face Meralomas a 12:45 p.m., followed by the Div. 1 game between Bayside and the UBC Premier Reserves at 2:30 p.m.
“The cherry on the cake is that we host the B.C. finals to Bayside, too, so it’s been a good run here for Bayside Rugby,” said Blackburn, referring to his club’s run of home-field advantage.
Bayside will host B.C. senior club finals – for all levels of men’s and women’s rugby – on May 7 at South Surrey Athletic Park.
Adding to the busy weekend of rugby, Bayside’s top women’s team is also set to play in a semifinal of their own, but on the road against Burnaby. That game hits the field at Burnaby Lake at 11:15 a.m. Saturday.
Though they’ll enter this weekend’s action as favourites by virtue of their first-place finishes in the regular season, Blackburn noted that the first-division Sharks will be “limping into the semifinals” as a result of “five or six” players having suffered recent season-ending injuries.
However, Blackburn was also quick to point out that this year’s depth is much improved compared to previous seasons, and he was confident they’d be able to overcome the loss of some key players.
As well, after Bayside’s top men’s team spent the fall season playing against premier-level clubs, which Blackburn says has left them “battle-hardened” now, as the games become more and more important.
Since the calendar flipped to 2022, the two Sharks men’s teams are a combined 17-1 through 18 games, with the one loss coming in Kelowna, by only a single point.
“At the end of the day, the stats don’t lie,” Blackburn said.