The TORA U18 Mens team appears to have had a tough PRC tournament, losing all 6 of their matches. However, this could not be further from the truth. The TORA U18 side was very competitive, unlike local U18 teams in previous years. The team’s quality play resulted in 8 players being invited to U18 and U17 provincial tryout camps.
TORA started the tournament against a very strong South Vancouver side, which they held to 5 points up to half time. Final score, a hard-fought 19 - 0 loss. The second game saw TORA facing the eventual silver medalist VIRU Tide squad. Another loss but the TORA U18s put up an excellent fight and ultimately got people talking about the quality of the Okanagan team.
The Sunday morning saw one of the best efforts of the tournament, where TORA faced the eventual winners of the PRCs - North Vancouver. TORA led 7-5 at the half from a try scored by Simon Paul (MBSS) and converted by Rhys James (KSS). A second half penalty kick gave VRU North an 8-7 lead. In the final minutes of the game, an excellent team effort orchestrated by Rhys James and Luke Simmonds put TORA inches from the goal line, but unfortunately the 8-7 score would stand. TORA faced VRU West in the fourth game, once again putting together a solid defensive performance against a strong side.
The final match of the tournament came Monday morning against Fraser Valley. This was a true game of heart and determination as TORA fought back from a 7-0 deficit at half to take a 12-7 lead off tries scored by Caelen Williams (Norkam) and Nate Schroeder (MBSS). The first try was converted by Rhys James. Unfortunately, FV scored a late try to win the match14-12.
This group of young men from the interior took huge strides this weekend and put TORA U18's on the rugby map. A team of predominately U17 players from a wide range of regions in BCs interior found a way to gel together as a team, turn some heads, and give a few rugby powerhouses a run for their money.
Simon Paul (MBSS), Rhys James (KSS), Lochlan Wilson (Valleyview), and Logan Henry (Team Captain - Westsyde) were invited to the BC U18 tryout camp next weekend.
Simon Phillips (Penticton), Simon Jobst (Aberdeen Hall), Ty Cheyne (Fulton), and Gage Fletcher (KSS) earned invites to try to earn a place on the BC U17/18 squad heading to Winnipeg this summer.
Nate Schroeder (MBSS), Luke Simmonds (Salmon Arm) and Andrew McFee (Immaculata) were recognized with team heart and determination awards after the final game.
Coach Christian Hill was very pleased with the U18 performance. He said, “I am exceptionally proud of the grit, determination and heart that this team played with this weekend. With the young age of players we had on this U18 side, and the strength of the U16s coming up behind them, the future looks very bright for TORA U18 Mens rugby.”