UXBRIDGE: The Uxbridge S.S. Tigers senior boys rugby team was in seventh heaven on Friday, May 27, after clinching the school's seventh consecutive LOSSA league title, and a berth in the OFSAA provincial championship.
The Tigers continued their undefeated season with a 30-5 drubbing of Dunbarton (Pickering) in the championship game at Thompson Park, in Raglan. The win earned the Tigers a berth in this week's OFSAA provincial championships in Markham, where Uxbridge enters as the top-ranked squad, spending much of the season atop Rugby Ontario's high school rankings.
Head coach Paul Connelly noted that the team faced tough competition in the championship game, relying on excellent defence to control the pace of the game.
"This has been an excellent team all season, and we weren't at our best today, and that had a lot to do with Dunbarton," Connelly told The Standard. "Our defence was outstanding today, and that was the difference for us. The team really wanted this win, and maybe we were a little too amped up to start the game."
The Tigers will now move to square off against the province's top competition in pursuit of the school's second provincial championship, having previously brought home gold in 2011.
Connelly noted that the team has had extra motivation following last year's season being wiped out due to the labour dispute between the province and teachers.
"Last year, we felt like we had a team that was definitely going to compete for a championship, and that's been a big motivator this season. We want to finish what we started, and take care of business this year," added Connelly.
On the pitch, the team was led by captain Robert “Reg" Freckelton, a member of Canada's junior national team. Freckelton credited his time with the top young players in the country, as well as a stint training in British Columbia for taking his game to a new level this season.
"Spending time with the national team has been a huge help with understanding the game and techniques, and I've tried to bring that back and add to being a leader for this team. I'd rather play and win with a Tiger on my jersey than anything."
Freckelton added that the team has risen to the occasion this year as the top-ranked team.
"Being number-one has given us a boost in confidence, but we still have to go out and play the game the right way. No team takes us lightly, and we get everyone's best shot. We knew that we'd have to step it up this year, and we've had a lot of great leadership."
The Tigers will be competing at OFSAA, at Fletcher's Field in Markham, from June 2 to 4. Uxbridge opens play on Thursday, at noon against Lawrence Park.
For more details, including a complete schedule, please visit www.ofsaa.on.ca/boys-aaa-rugby.
For all rugby updates follow @darrylknight on Twitter.