To say Russell Manning enjoyed his experience with Team B.C.’s under-19 men’s rugby team during the Canadian Rugby Championship (CRC) may be an understatement.
“Oh my god it was so much fun,” said the Princess Margaret grad, adding it was awesome to have the B.C. crest on his shirt while playing in St. John’s, Nfld., July 16-20. “You’re at the national tournament with all the best players in the country for your age group.”
Manning and Team B.C. faced the Ontario Junior Blues for the national championship, but fell short 14-5 against a defensive juggernaut.
“They are just such a solid defensive team,” said Manning, who has also played for the Penticton Harlequins and helped them win the Saratoga Cup two years ago. “It would have been harder for us to play any better.”
Manning, who plays rugby for the UVic Vikes, said after watching the game film, they could see the weak spots they had. Manning said Ontario was a very fast, offensive squad.
“As soon as you get the ball out, they are up in your face,” said Manning, who took pride in representing his province for the first time, while being one of the top 25 players. “You have to make a really quick decision. They were very smart.”
B.C. opened the CRC with a 26-7 win against the Prairie Wolf Pack on July 16. B.C. then edged the Quebec Voyageurs 12-10 before losing to Ontario. B.C. rebounded to defeat the host Atlantic Rock 34-10 to finish second with a 3-1 record. It was the program’s first loss in three years.
The B.C. Rugby website states that the U19 CRC is the top 15-aside youth rugby competition in Canada and features players eligible for Rugby Canada’s U20 entry at the annual Junior World Rugby Trophy. The tournament also serves as a feeder for the senior men’s CRC, featuring the highest level of Canadian players.