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Rugby Nova Scotia – Rugby Nova Scotia’s senior provincial rugby programs recently added some impressive hardware to their trophy cabinet with a Super League title for the men and a national silver medal for the women. 

Super League champs

The Eastern Canadian Super League (ECSL) has men’s teams from an Atlantic Division (New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia) and a Central Division (Eastern Ontario, Quebec, Arrows Academy). After regular season play, the top two teams from each division traveled to Montreal July 13 – 15 for the final stages of the ECSL.  

The Keltics (seeded 1 in Atlantic) first took on a rejuvenated Quebec team (seeded 2 in the Central) for an exciting semi-final match in front of a vocal crowd. 

Our Keltics went two scores down early in the match, but, right at half time, Truro Saints’ Brett Johnson bullied his way over in the corner to give the Keltics the lead. Quebec tried to grind their way back into the game in the second half, but Vice-Captain Cooper Coates (Tars RFC) picked off a Quebec pass to go under the posts late in the game, rounding off a 36-20 point Keltics victory. 

This set up an all-Atlantic final with the Newfoundland Rock, who gained their spot with a surprising yet convincing win over the Ontario Arrows in the other semi. The Keltics had beaten the Rock twice in regular season play, but this legendary rivalry makes it too hard to ever predict a favourite.  

In the final, the Keltics started better early on in the almost impossible Montreal heat, with Sam MacDonnell (Enfield RFC) finishing off a lovely centre move from Brett Johnson and Jordan McNeil (Pictou County RFC). 

The Keltics had most of the possession, but the Rock classically were not dying off. Early in the second half, Patrick MacNicolas picked off a pass in his own five-metre line and ran the length of the half, which would not only tie up the game, but would be the final say as the final went into overtime. 

With the first half of over time, the Rock had two big chances through there always impressive maul tactics. The Keltics managed to hold their line and gathered some momentum going into the second half of OT. 

The winning of the cup came with only a minute to go, as Windsor Machine’s Federico Cisneroes received a tip pass from Coates – the fullback put his head down and dove for the line to give the Keltics a 20-15 victory and the ECSL Super League title. 

“It’s been a long road, not only this year but all the years before, but we now get to take home the cup,” said Keltics team captain, Evan Dickie. “The victory doesn’t just go down to today – it goes down to all the squad members from all through the season. It’s a great feeling!”

Senior women wow in Saskatoon

The Keltics Senior women finally ended their CRC voodoo by claiming second place at the Canadian Rugby Championships in Saskatoon, July 16 – 22.

With tough teams from Quebec, Ontario, the Prairie Wolfpack and British Columbia, the CRC has historically been too big a championship for our smaller-market eastern teams. In fact, a women’s team from the East Coast had never recorded a victory in the championships history.

Till 2018, that is.  

Day 1 saw the Keltics take on the home team, the Prairie Wolfpack. The Keltics scored four tries to deal the Wolf Pack a decisive losing bonus point. The Keltics earned their first CRC victory with an impressive 24-15 score line.

With less than 24 hours to recover, the Keltics had BC awaiting them. BC, who were also coming off a victory on day one, were in the lead against our Keltics going into the final minutes of the game. But the Keltics’ never-say-die attitude went on for 27 phases of possession, until Jordan Orlando  dotted down under the posts and Dominque Rumball (HRFC) slotted the extras for a first ever senior victory against BC, 17-15.

Game three became a battle of two unbeaten teams, with Quebec (the pre-tournament favourites) against our Keltics women.

The first half was blow for blow as the sides were tied 7-7 at half time. Then the big wind kicked in as well as the class of the Quebec backline; Quebec ran out winners not only of this game (36-12) but of the tournament.

The final fixture came against the infamous Ontario. Last year’s champions, Ontario would this year have to settle with a chance at silver. The Keltics had their own chance at silver but knew they had to halt an Ontario team that boasted many International players.

Ontario had the wind in the first half and managed to run up the score line and secure the try bonus point in the first half, taking a 27-5 lead at the half-time break.

The second half saw the Keltics at their best, playing the conditions and keeping possession for most the half. With the Keltics barrelling over for three more tries of their own, they now had silver in sight.

The Keltics knew they had done enough to secure silver even though were down by 3 points, so they kicked the ball out of bounds ending the game and ending the years of bringing nothing home to the East coast. The Keltics are national silver medalists! 

“We believed that we could medal in this tournament, and that was our goal. We took each game at a time and didn’t look ahead,” said Jack Hanratty, head coach for both the women’s and men’s senior teams. “The players fully invested on tour and we were lucky to have a very engaged staff. We are very proud of the hard work put in by the entire team and thrilled that their effort was rewarded.”

Also at the tournament the Keltics U20 women’s team secured a bronze medal with wins against Quebec and BC while the U19 Atlantic team finished the tournament with a Silver medal just being pipped by Ontario on the final day.

Next on the agenda for the Keltics programs is Eastern Nationals for the U16 / U18 men’s and women’s teams, which will take place in Acadia University, August 14th-19th.