Barrie North adds former Central players, coaches to strengthen rugby program
Curtis King of the Innisdale Invaders tries to fight his way past Nathan Carrier of the Barrie North Vikings during senior boys rugby action on Thursday at the Georgian College Sports Field in Barrie. The Vikings would take the win, 27-25. MARK WANZEL/PHOTO
It has been quite the overhaul for the Barrie North Vikings.
The senior boys rugby program ended up inheriting a half-dozen players from Barrie Central, not to mention coaches Ron Andrews and Steve Porter.
As a result, the resources for the Vikings have grown exponentially.
“I've been explaining to some of my friends (who used to be on the team) that if, (last year) we were doing some addition and subtraction, then now we're doing calculus,” said Vikings co-captain Jake Julien. “It's been a big change, but it's a positive for the boys.”
Barrie North's strong rugby program has now been improved that much more, giving the 'AA' school a real shot with the 'AAA' contenders.
“We've got a strong pack and big advantages with our forwards, and our backs play strong, too,” said Vikings co-captain William Hoffmann. “We've got a lot of good stuff going.”
It's part of the reason that Barrie North can get a little upset even in victory, as it edged the winless Innisdale Invaders 27-25 on Thursday.
“We weren't playing very well,” Hoffmann said. “The (Invaders) are big and strong and we're usually a lot better against teams like this, but I don't know what happened in this game.”
Things looked all right to start, with Barrie North scoring after driving hard following a line out two minutes in.
But Innisdale's Curtis King would plunge in for a try just five minutes later as the first of three consecutive times that the Invaders responded immediately after a Vikings score.
“When we get away from our gameplan, like we did in the first half, we don't get the results that we want,” Julien said.
It was a quick pair of tries in the second half by Duncan Montague and Carson Dunec that put the Vikings ahead for good, although Innisdale would make it interesting at the end.
“We felt really out of shape today, because of the heat, but we started scoring more once we started sticking to our gameplan,” Julien said.
The first 30 minutes also showed that there is still the capacity for mental mistakes despite having taken in much of their thorough playbook.
“We know exactly where we messed up all game,” Julien said. “It was simple mistakes that we made earlier in the year that shouldn't happen, but they did today.”
The Vikings were ready for a more detailed approach, discovering very quickly that things were indeed going to change this season.
“When we got to the first (meeting) in the wintertime and saw the playbook, it was pretty crazy,” Hoffmann said. “It was like a new program, basically.
“It was a lot to take in at once, but we picked it up pretty quickly and we've been slowly adding more as the season goes on.”
The Vikings have found an ability to get an edge on their opponents as a result.
“Our rugby IQ has gone through the roof,” Julien said. “We've been practising a lot and learning the system, executing and everyone is doing their roles.”
Sometimes things can be tricky with a new boss, but there was plenty of respect from the incumbent Barrie North players for Andrews and Porter.
“They brought in quite the legacy with them, with all of those wins at OFSAA with Central,” Hoffmann said. “Having a coach that brought so many different plays and stuff like that was awesome.
“There's a lot of specifics to the games and rules and such that we've gotten to learn now.”
With the tools in place, it will be up to the Vikings to determine whether they go home early in next week's playoffs or if they can make it to the Georgian Bay Secondary School Association finals.
“(Thursday's game) is definitely a wake-up call with regards to the season,” Julien said. “That's a little flash to remind us that Monday could be our last game, so we have to stick to the gameplan and get going.”