Local rugby team beats English club

Published on Wed, Jul 2, 2014 by Ian Ferguson

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In international competition this year, the local youth rugby team has yet to find its equal.

The Chuckanut Bay Steamers rugby team won the Washington championship and the B.C. championship this year, and now they’ve beaten a team all the way from England, where the sport was invented.

A team from Hockerill College in England traveled to Bellingham to face the Chuckanut Bay U15 team June 29. 

The Steamers came away with the win, 46–24 in what assistant coach Brad Otto called, “A very competitive game that was fun to watch.”

The win marks the first time in the club’s history that it has beaten a team from another country besides Canada. In years past, the Steamers have hosted teams from Wales, New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland and England.

Several players on the team attend Blaine High School: freshman Cody Goucher, sophomores John Kramme, Devyn Dickinson, Billy Veliz, Gunnar Arnason and Brady Otto and junior Dustin Sadnick.

The Steamers play in leagues in Washington and B.C. They were undefeated against teams from Washington, and lost only one game in B.C. during spring break when many players were absent.

“The game against Hockerill was the best competition we’ve had all year,” Otto said.

The Steamers took an early lead in the game, and the score was 15–5 when Hockerill almost evened the score just before the second half. Veliz made a stop at the score line and forced a turnover.

In the second half, Hockerill made a small comeback, scoring twice consecutively, when Arnason scored for Chuckanut Bay.

“He made a great 30-meter run right up the middle,” Otto said. “That goal took the momentum away from them and we never gave it back.”

The Steamers went on to win 46–24. The two teams held a post-game barbeque at Birch Bay State Park.

“The kids had fun playing against each other and hanging out afterwards. They’re good sports,” Otto said of the Hockerill players.

The rugby season is just about over for Chuckanut Bay, and it will start up again next February. Otto said the team is planning a trip to Australia in 2015, where they’ll face much tougher competition.

“We’ll probably get our butts handed to us over there,” he said.

Competition may be tougher in local leagues as well, as U17 players graduate and players move up through the ranks.

“The league is constantly changing, and it all equals out,” Otto said.