The Penticton Harlequins senior men’s rugby team is eyeing a second Saratoga Cup championship in three years.
“Certainly when we did it two years ago it was one of our top moments in our 30-year history,” said Harlequins captain Dave Bellomo, adding that their first season-goal was winning the Okanagan Rugby Union.
A cloud of uncertainty hangs above the third division group, at least in the mind of coach Ken Sommerfeldt, as some players practise.
“It’s not looking as good as we hoped at this time because of the not being able to get guys out to practice on a regular basis,” said Sommerfeldt. “To have only 17 available is very disheartening.”
Low numbers make it hard to run practices as Sommerfeldt would giving him the feeling their direction is going the wrong way.
“I’m not feeling really confident on our chances to come out victors,” he said.
Bellomo doesn’t share the same concern.
“As much as our numbers have been lower, I think on the weekend we will be okay,” he said adding it can be a challenge for out-of-town players to attend every practice. “If we have the same crew from the spring, I think we can win it.”
After being on a summer break, the Harlequins have been easing back into business.They are trying to flip the switch from casual training to more serious.
The Harlequins system relies on their forwards to win the ball back, while the backs carry the offensive load. Bellomo added they have size and strength and stressed that the back fielders youth and fitness is a big factor for them.
There is a change with the number of teams in the Saratoga Cup. Normally, a four-team championship, the Kats representing the Lower Mainland / Vancouver Island contacted Sommerfeldt indicating they are not able to field enough players to make the trip. Vying for the cup with the Harlequins will be the defending champion Elk Valley Bulls from the Kootenay’s and Williams Lake RFC.
Sommerfeldt said several emails are being exchanged to sort out the tournament.
As of now, the Harlequins will face the Bulls Saturday at 2 p.m. at McNicoll Park. On Sunday, Williams Lake will play two half length games, the first at 10 a.m. against the loser of Saturday’s game. The championship will be played at 12:30 p.m.