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Sr Boys Rugby 7s Accomplishes the Unexpected

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GNS Senior Boys Rugby sevens team have squashed any lingering doubt about its ability as a single-A school to compete against the province’s ‘big fish’ AAA schools. Vancouver Island zone championship runners-up, GNS Gryphons travelled to Vancouver for the high school rugby sevens provincial tournament held at St. George’s School Saturday, April 21 and Sunday, April 22. Their qualifying performance earned top-seed in Pool D that included West Vancouver, Burnaby North and Kelowna. In their opening game of the pool round Saturday afternoon, the GNS Gryphons faltered in the first half and West Vancouver quickly posted 21 unanswered points on the scoreboard. Remarkably, the Gryphons clawed back in the second half and evened the score—only to see West Vancouver take a seven-point lead with little time left on the clock. Refusing to accept defeat, our Gryphons scored two converted tries to snatch a seemingly imminent win from Sentinel much to everyone’s amazement. Final score: GNS 35, West Vancouver 28. In their second match, the Gryphons had a more favourable game and finished with a 29 to 7 win over Burnaby North. All hopes for a similar game against Kelowna in our third and final pool match quickly evaporated within minutes of the opening whistle as both teams matched each other equally on offence and defence. Kelowna struck first with a try and conversion, and the Gryphons evened the score shortly after. Kelowna struck again with a try between the posts but missed the conversion much to everyone’s surprise. The Gryphons came back with a try to balance the scoreboard at 12 to 12. With little time left in the game, Kelowna scored another try between the posts to regain the lead at 17 to 12. Unknown forces favoured the Gryphons again and an easy conversion attempt that would have sealed the victory for Kelowna drifted wide of the posts. Our Gryphons pounced on their shocked opponents with a try in the dying seconds to tie the game with a win hanging in the balance of making a difficult conversion. Good fortune smiled on the Gryphons and the final whistle sounded as the kick sailed through the uprights to steal another victory. Final score: GNS 19, Kelowna 17. Exhausted and sore, the Gryphons celebrated the win and their first place finish in Pool D. The tournament resumed early Sunday morning and GNS faced GP Vanier in the first round of cup and plate competition. The Gryphons stepped onto the pitch knowing that GP Vanier would be seeking revenge for its last-minute loss against GNS in the zone tournament. Both teams battled hard and GNS managed to edge GP Vanier out again. Final score: GNS 14, GP Vanier 12. The win placed GNS in the province’s top four rugby sevens high schools with Shawnigan Lake, St. George’s and Earl Marriot. As only fate would have it, GNS drew Shawnigan Lake for its cup semi-finals match. The Gryphons had lost 51 to 5 to SLS in the zone championship final last week that saw the only points scored on SLS in that tournament. GNS was well aware of the challenge that lay ahead as no one had defeated SLS in a zone or provincial sevens game this season. The Gryphons played their nemesis with grit and determination that was reflected on the scoreboard. Final score: SLS 31, GNS 0. GNS had narrowed the margin from its previous encounter despite losing one of its most valuable players to injury at the end of the first half and playing one more game than SLS in the pool round. With little reserve left in its tank, GNS met Earl Marriot in the cup championship bronze game. The battle-weary Gryphons struggled to match their opponents yet they continued to fight as hopes of winning the bronze medal game slipped away. Final score: Earl Marriot 42, GNS 7. By all accounts, the GNS Senior Boys Rugby sevens team accomplished the unexpected at provincials this season and against greater odds than most other teams. They came from a 10th place provincial showing in 2011 to 4th place in 2012, and they did so with little to no rugby sevens training or experience. Arguably, GNS was again the smallest school in the competition. Each Gryphon did his best through truth and courage in every game of zone and provincial competition, and each holds an equal share in the success achieved and the respect garnered.