While there were three Gold Medal finals at the Rugby Canada National Festival - it was the U18 men's final that provided the showcase for some amazing rugby skills at Calgary Rugby Park.
British Columbia came from behind and then withstood five lead changes in the second half for a 38-33 win to take the Gold Medal from Ontario in an exciting final in front of nearly 800 fans. In 68th minute wing Liam Murphy Burke stepped into an Ontario pass and rocketed 65 metres the other direction for the final go ahead score. At the time of the BC try Ontario was leading 33-31 but the converted score, coupled with a final minute yellow card offense to Chris Woodhead put paid to a final Ontario score.
The U18 women's final saw Ontario beat British Columbia 34-18, while the British Columbia U16 men's team showed no mercy to first time finalists Newfoundland in a 88-5 drubbing.
In the bronze medal matches it Ontario 2 U18 women taking down Quebec 55-14, while on the Men's U16 side BC(2) scored in extra time to take the game 22-17.
In the U18 Men's bronze match Alberta prevailed 44-20 over Newfoundland and Labrador.
The finals day wrapped a four day competition and six day assembly of over 700 players from all divisions in Calgary for a second straight year.
MENS U18: Murphy-Burke scores intercept try to down Ontario 38-33
The most heated rivalry in Canadian rugby took centre stage on Sunday afternoon in the Men's Under-18 National Final with reigning champs Ontario taking on British Columbia. The highly anticipated championship final lived up to expectations with BC winger Liam Murphy-Burke (Bayside RFC) scoring the game winning intercept try to lift BC to a 38-33 victory.
"That game may have been great for the fans, but the coaching staff were on the sidelines close to having heart attacks," said a relieved BC head coach Jeff Williams. "That is how finals should be, with both sides putting everything into it and the game going right until the end."
In a match that saw the lead change hands on several occasions, Ontario drew first blood to go up 5-0 when their prop Curtis Lawson barrelled over for a try. The score was converted by Lucas Hammond.
Ontario were up 21-14 at the half but let BC back into the game early in the second frame when scrum half Jorden Best (Abbotsford RFC) broke through for a try, with BC tacking on a conversion and a penalty.
The final 20 minutes of play were an entertaining display of high-scoring rugby with the lead changing hands three times.
With seven minutes to play, Ontario were in the driving seat with a 33-31 lead and were pressing deep inside BC's twenty-two. Ontario swung the ball wide and a miss-pass move turned disastrous as BC winger Murphy-Burke intercepted and ran the ball back for the game winning try. BC full back Connor Hunter (Abbotsford RFC) converted for the 38-33 score line and his side managed to fend off any further attacks from their Eastern foes.
"You have to give credit to Ontario because they posed a lot of problems for us," added Williams. "Their 8-9-10 combination was dangerous and caused us to make a lot of mistakes. That was a close game just as we expected, but our guys played well and they deserved it."
MENS U16: 14-try BC down Newfoundland 88-5
The Men's U16 national final was all one-way traffic on Sunday afternoon, with BC leading from start to finish, eventually dispatching Newfoundland 88-5. The scoring opened with BC speedster Tomasi Vataiki out-sprinting several tacklers to go over and then the flood gates opened.
Three BC players recorded braces with Tomasi Vataiki (Richmond RFC), Giuseppe Du Toit (United RC) and Surge Francis (Abbotsford RFC) each crossing over twice. Singles were notched by Marshall Fuller (Capilano RFC), Spencer Miller (Abbotsford RFC), Randy Barton (Cowichan RFC), Thomas Choi (Abbotsford RFC), Joey Campbell (Abbotsforf RFC), Louis Retief (Abbotsford RFC), Tobin Sydneysmith (Capilano RFC) and Karsten Leitner (UBCOB Ravens). Du Toit kicked nine conversions to round out the scoring.
"We played a good team game and everyone pitched in," said BC U16 captain Spencer Miller. "They played just how we thought they would with hard forward running. Our forwards matched them and then we fanned it out wide and scored some tries."
BC-1 went undefeated during the 2011 National Festival, conceding just 29 points in the entire tournament.
The tournament is used as a selection tool for Canadian age grade team coaches and also allows coaches from across the country to interact and share new training techniques.