Tomahawks chop Wolverines

Team Canada’s 22-16 loss to Team USA took place at Richardson Stadium this weekend in the first international rugby match to take place in Canada in 10 years

Team Canada took on Team USA in Kingston on Sunday for the first annual Colonial Cup.
Team Canada took on Team USA in Kingston on Sunday for the first annual Colonial Cup.

Last weekend Richardson Stadium played host to the Canada Rugby League’s first international match in 10 years as the USA Tomahawks defeated the Canada Wolverines by a score of 22-16 in the first annual Colonial Cup.

Rugby League differs from the more widespread Rugby Union in that there are only 13 players per side, there are six tackles (similar to downs in football) before the ball is turned over and there are no rucks or mauls. The scoring system is also adjusted in Rugby League with tries worth four points, conversions and penalty kicks worth two points and drop goals worth a single point.

Team Canada jumped out to an early 4-2 lead after Danny Tupou ran in a try on the left wing, however it was all USA after that in the first half. Three consecutive converted tries by the Tomahawks along with a penalty kick saw Team USA carry a 22-4 lead into halftime.

The Wolverines charged back in the second half paced by tries from captain and head coach Jamie Lester and fullback Dave Burton. Adam Moody converted on one try and added a penalty kick to cut the score to 22-16, however time would expire before Canada could equalize the match.

Lester said he was very happy with the result, considering that the U.S. are currently ranked 13th in the world and this was the Wolverines’ first match.

“It was a great game,” Lester said. “USA was expected to run away with it, they’ve been playing in strong domestic competitions for the last 13 years. We weren’t expected to compete this well … It was disappointing to not come away with the win, but it was a good result overall.”

The wind may have played a factor in shaping the two completely opposite halves, going with the Tomahawks in the first half and with the Wolverines in the second.

“It was tough going in to the wind,” Lester said. “It didn’t feel like a strong breeze but it definitely affected the kicking game.”

The second half presented a challenge to the Wolverines who were already at a considerable deficit to the Tomahawks. Lester said Team Canada came out of the first half with confidence but couldn’t come up with the win.

“We knew we were still in the game at halftime,” he said. “It was just a matter of working our way through the sets, getting good field position and applying good pressure. We managed to do that in the second half and it’s just unfortunate that we couldn’t get one more [try].”

Lester said he was pleased with the level of competition his team showed given their inexperience.

“This is going to be a great experience for the boys to open their eyes up to the level of competition,” he said. “It was sort of an unknown quantity going in, we didn’t know what to expect. We were confident that we were going to be competitive but we just really didn’t know. This is going to give us a foundation of something to grow on.”

A small section of the 1,400 people in attendance were there to support Kingston-native and Wolverine assistant captain Cam Grace. Grace boasts an impressive pedigree as he is the youngest grandson of the late Syl Apps, former Toronto Maple Leafs captain and member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

“It’s been a while since I’ve played in Kingston, so it was nice to see a bunch of faces that I knew in the crowd,” Grace said. “My family was out here as well holding some signs and trying to embarrass me. It was great to be back home and play on home turf, especially being the only player on the squad that’s from Kingston.”

Despite playing in their first international match, Grace said that the team was able to come together and play as a unit immediately.

“I think we gelled quite quickly,” he said. “You could see it coming together about midway through the first half when we started to get into a bit more of a rhythm; we weren’t so erratic all over the field. I think we’re only going to get better as time goes on.”

From here the Wolverines will continue to practice for the Atlantic Cup, held stateside in November.

“We’re going to bring in a few more players and improve players that we’ve got,” Grace said. “It’ll just take time. [The Americans] have been playing together for years, they’ve got their own league down there and we dragged a team together in about a month and a half and came down here and put on a pretty good show. I think we can get a lot better.”

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