A high-school rugby rivalry that’s been dormant for the better part of two seasons is set to be rekindled this week.
On Wednesday evening, the Earl Marriott Mariners senior boys rugby team will hit the pitch against Abbotsford’s Yale Lions in the Fraser Valley championship game.
This year marks the 10th consecutive season that the Mariners have played in the Fraser Valley title tilt, and Yale has often been their opponent across the pitch. Earl Marriott won the Valley banner against Yale in both 2016 and ‘17, but the Lions got the better of the South Surrey side for the title in 2015.
The two teams didn’t play each other last season though, as Marriott’s move to the five-team premier league eliminated a potential regular-season matchup, and once returned to the triple-A level for playoffs, they didn’t play the Lions, either, as Yale lost to South Delta in semifinals. EMS defeated South Delta in the final a week later.
“We’re back to playing Yale, who we seem to play every year,” EMS coach Adam Roberts laughed. “Last year it was different, but these last 10 years, it just seems to come down to us and them every time. The rivalry hasn’t been quite what it was these last couple years, but it’s fun to get it going again.”
Regardless of Wednesday night’s result, both teams have already punched their ticket to provincial championships, which are set for March 29-June 1 in Abbotsford.
Marriott earned a berth in this week’s final – and a spot at B.C. championships – by virtue of a 41-5 semifinal victory last week over Langley’s R.E. Mountain Secondary.
Playing in the senior boys premier loop alongside provincial powerhouses such as Shawnigan Lake, Oak Bay, St. George’s and Carson Graham, wins in the regular season were hard to come by. But Roberts said it helped sharpen his team’s skills in time for playoffs.
“We’ve had such hard competition this year (in the premier league). Every game, you’re up against it, and we have a very young team,” he said. “This group has had quite a run coming up through junior (rugby), and they finally kind of met their match this year. It’s been nice to see them rise to the occasion, and even though we’ve taken a few beatings, we’ve learned from them.
“Hopefully we’re peaking at the right time.”
The Fraser Valley championship game is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. at Yale Secondary.