Harlequins win first ever Saratoga Cup

Harlequins capture their first Saratoga Cup champion as B.C.'s best third division rugby club

CALUM LLOYD passes the ball to a teammate near the centre field mark during second-half action in the Saratoga Cup final against the Brit Lions of the Lower Mainland at McNicoll Park field. It was the team’s first-ever provincial title. Below

CALUM LLOYD passes the ball to a teammate near the centre field mark during second-half action in the Saratoga Cup final against the Brit Lions of the Lower Mainland at McNicoll Park field. It was the team’s first-ever provincial title. Below

The Penticton Harlequins weren’t trending on Twitter, but the rugby club did get some love following their 2012 Saratoga Cup win.

A handful of rugby fans tweeted the result from Sunday’s 26-10 victory against the Brit Lions RFC from Delta. The Penticton Vees expressed their support tweeting “Congrats to the Penticton Harlequins! Winners of 2012 Saratoga Cup! Provincial Rugby champions for 2012! #cityofchampions”

Harlequins captain Brad Martin said he is elated by the victory and proud of his teammates. Asked what the feeling was at the end, Martin couldn’t find the right words immediately.

“Joy, elation, a little bit of exhaustion after all the hard work,” said Martin. “Couple of hard-fought, close matches. I thought the group played fantastic. Came out hard and ready to compete. They never gave up.”

“I thought it was probably one of the best games that I’ve seen our team play in the last five to 10 years,” said Harlequins coach Ken Sommerfeldt. “Very strong performance.”

Sommerfeldt added the start wasn’t what they wanted, with the Brit Lions scoring first and stopping the Harlequins attack in the first 15 minutes. That changed once Sommerfeldt saw the Harlequins begin to wear the Brit Lions out.

“You could see we just kept pounding at them,” he said.

The second half started strong with the Harlequins scoring three tries. One of the players key to the Harlequins win was Brandon Messier.

“I felt he had a very, very strong game,” said Sommerfeldt, adding Messier was worthy of man of the match if such an award was given.

Martin said Messier played “tremendous.”

“He ran the ball really hard. He didn’t shy away from any of the contact,” he said. “He was always there to try to steal the ball and get us going forward.”

While the Brit Lions RFC tried to claw back, Martin said they didn’t give them a chance to score. Finishing third in the championship was Williams Lake and the Rocky Mountain Rogues in fourth.

Martin said the Harlequins’ first Saratoga Cup win is a great accomplishment. It is special for him because his father Huia Martin is one of the Harlequins founders.

“We still have a good handful of those founding members around,” said Martin, who thanked the volunteers for their help during the championship and to family and friends for their support. “For them to be there to enjoy some of the celebration with us that was very rewarding. I feel very proud that I can help bring this championship to Penticton.”

The Harlequins celebrated their win responsibly and also sang songs taught to them.

Sommerfeldt said he looks forward to next year. He hopes they can keep the same group. There is a desire to build on what they accomplished. The team will play in one more tournament heading to Abbotsford during Thanksgiving weekend. Their only goal being to have fun.



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