Supporters alike stood for a moment of silence to honour the lives of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, Canada’s two soldiers who were lost on home soil earlier this week at the Final of Rugby in Ontario.
Rugby Ontario also welcomed Paul Calandra, Member of the Canadian Parliament for Oak Ridges-Markham, as a Guest of Honour for the McCormick Cup Final. Mr. Calandra – Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s parliamentary secretary, and a big fan of the sport of rugby – met with the two McCormick Cup finalists prior to the match, and took in the match from the stands.
In what will likely be considered one of the most thrilling provincial championship matches of the past decade, Balmy Beach defeated Toronto Scottish 27-22 in a back-and-forth nail-biter on Saturday afternoon, capturing Ontario men’s rugby’s top prize – the McCormick Cup – in front of a crowd of 1000+ spectators at Fletcher’s Fields in Markham, Ont.
The underdog Scottish were the first team on the scoresheet, with wing Milan Cookson notching a penalty kick five minutes into the match – the first of five penalties he would make throughout the afternoon.
Wasting little time, Balmy Beach responded less than two minutes later, as centre Sean Gowland blew past Scottish’s defensive line to touch down in the corner, giving his side their first lead of the match, 7-3.
Two more Cookson penalties over the next 10 minutes restored Scottish’s lead to 9-7, but the pendulum soon swung back in Beach’s direction when wing Ryan McSween used his powerful pace to track down a kick to space to score an impressive try.
Less than five minutes later, Beach scrum-half Brendan Dorus barged over the whitewash for a try of his own, and with Connor McCann connecting on the conversion, the Beaches-based club saw their lead grow to 19-7.
However, another Cookson penalty – his fourth of the half – followed shortly by a converted try from scrum-half Dan Visentin, knotted the score at 19-19.
The fifth lead change of the frame would come at the stroke of halftime, as McCann slotted a penalty to give Beach a 22-19 advantage heading into the interval.
The second half opened with yet another Cookson penalty, struck one minute into the half, to level the score at 22-22.
In their efforts to take control of the match, handling errors and indiscipline crept into the Scottish side, resulting in a yellow card given to centre Rahim Dharamsi for repeat infringement, issued at the 53-minute mark.
The sin bin sentence would prove costly for Scottish, as the superior-numbered Beach broke the deadlock when McSween sped into the corner for his second try of the match, giving his side a 27-22 lead.
Despite sending wave after wave of attack at the Beach defensive line throughout the final twenty minutes of the match, and coming within a few feet of a try in the dying seconds, Scottish were unable to mount a comeback. At the sound of the final whistle, Beach’s stalwart defensive play in the latter stages of the match sealed a 27-22 victory, earning the club their 14th provincial championship, and their first since 2011
“It’s hard to sum up just how much it means to win the McCormick Cup,” said Balmy Beach captain Haydn Gage. “Lifting the Cup, and being able to call ourselves Ontario’s best, is a fantastic achievement for the Beach. Everyone at the club has been working for years get to this point, and now we’re here. The hard work has paid off.”
Balmy Beach’s road to the McCormick Cup Final began in late September with opening-round wins over Marshall Championship division side Brampton Beavers (67-12) and Eastern Ontario league champions Ottawa Indians (73-17). Balmy Beach’s third round featured a comfortable victory over the Premiership’s fourth-place finisher, Brantford Harlequins (60-14).
“Toronto Scottish put in a very good performance, and we had to give our all in order to win the Cup, so it shows how high the level of competition has been this year” said Balmy Beach head coach Bruce Gage. “It’s been a great season for our club, and we have some great young players coming on, so hopefully we’ll be able to continue to enjoy success for many years to come.”