It’s Victoria’s biggest derby in high school rugby and for the next 12 months the bronzed trophy of Gareth Rees’ boot will live at Oak Bay High.
Oak Bay Barbarians winger Kimia Hamedi scored a try, hit all five of his team’s try conversions, and nailed a penalty kick for a total of 18 points as the Barbs beat St. Michaels University School 38-17 at St. Michaels on Tuesday (May 1).
“It’s great to see the great rivalry that is the Boot Game,” said Barbs coach Murray Allen, vice principal of Oak Bay High. “For the kids this is one of the biggest games of the year, the size of the crowd was enormous. Students, parents and alumni show how big a deal it is.”
St. Mikes is no slouch in the AAA rugby standings. The school is always among the tops in Victoria and is currently ranked eighth overall in the province. But size is on Oak Bay’s side this year, as the Barbs are ranked second in the province and are one of the select few who could challenge the nobility of No. 1-ranked Shawnigan Lake Stags for a B.C. title.
“(St. Mikes) carried the play in the first part of the game, had more possession and defended well,” Allen said. “We took advantage of mistakes and got up 21-7 by the half.”
The Barbs didn’t take control until early in the second half when fly half Riley MacPherson came back on from an eight-minute banishment to the sin bin.
“MacPherson might have been our player of the game. Once he came back on we really got things going,” Allen said.
The win was Oak Bay’s fourth against top-10 ranked AAA teams this year, including defeats of Carson Graham (No. 4), G.P. Vanier (No. 10) and Earl Marriot (No. 5).
The two clubs are destined to meet again for the Howard Russell Cup, the city’s AAA championship. That final is scheduled for May 17 at Oak Bay High, to be played back-to-back with the city’s A/AA Colonel Hodgkins final.
“We don’t have a big forward pack. We do have a lot of skill, but we need to be fleet of foot,” said St. Mikes coach Eliot Anderson. “Provincially, if we’re fit and healthy we’re a tough game for anybody.”
The Glenlyon Norfolk School rugby team took a lot of first steps this season, a season of trial-by-fire as the small program jumped to Tier 1 in the Lower Island rugby schedule. It has meant suffering big losses, 44-8 to St. Mikes and 48-0 to the Barbs. But by no means has it brought Glenlyon down, as the team led by B.C. youth sevens star Fergus Hall came up with a pair of Tier 1 victories recently, 12-7 over the Claremont Spartans and 34-17 over the Reynolds Rogues.
But where Glenlyon really made its mark this year was at the provincial seven-a-side championships in early March. With Hall at the helm, Glenlyon finished fourth among the 22 teams competing. Glenlyon won all three pool games but lost to eventual champions Shawnigan Lake 31-0 in the semifinals. Earl Marriott defeated Glenlyon 42-7 in the bronze medal game.
Oak Bay, which was in the pool of death with Shawnigan and St. Mikes, recovered with a 31-7 win over Burnaby North but lost to 31-19 to St. George’s in the plate semifinal. St. Mikes fell in the bowl championship 19-7 to Lord Byng.