Connor Tweed scores his first of two tries for Calgary Canucks in their Alberta Rugby Provincial Final against Strathcona Druids at Ellerslie Rugby Park, Edmonton on September 28, 2019. © J. Ashley Nixon
It’s been a while in coming; no less than 16 years according to the history of the Canucks, which tells you that the Calgary rugby club last won the Division 1 Alberta Championship in 2003, the season that the club established its junior program (see note below on Canucks history) .
Having taken the Calgary City title, the previous week with a win over the Rams, the Canucks earned their spot in the provincial final against Strathcona Druids. With snow flurries in the air and talk of serious winter-like storms further south, the game got underway at Ellerslie Rugby Park, Edmonton with action in the first two minutes. Canucks wing forward, Graham Blyth charged down a kick within the Strathcona 25 metres out, collected the ball and ran in to score right of the posts. Corey Larribe, playing stand-off, made the conversion.
Six minutes later, the Canucks were awarded a penalty and elected a scrum. Chad Spence fed in, collected the ball from his back row and sped hard right and over the line to make it 12-0. The Druids got on the score sheet after 14 minutes with a converted try scored under the posts. Two minutes later the Canucks extended their lead with a try down the right-wing by full-back Connor Tweed, again converted by Larribe to make it 19-7.
At the twenty-minute mark, Canucks captain and hooker, Gabriel Kajdy went down hard in a tackle and had to go off, replaced by Luke Demeter. Larribe had a chance with a penalty kick at 22 minutes but the ball hit the left post and bounced out. The Druids were successful with their own penalty five minutes later, then another one after 36 minutes bringing the score to 19-13.
The Calgary forwards had to reshuffle once more when Josh Bentley had to go off injured but just before the interval, Chad Spence got on a breakaway down the right-wing to score his second try of the game. The conversion was unsuccessful; half-time score 24-13.
Ten minutes into the second half, Larribe scored from a penalty kick, then another one three minutes later. His next attempt was another post-hitter, but the score had moved on to 30-13. Centre Derek Arnold scored in the left corner after 18 minutes and Connor Tweed got his second try of the game with two minutes to go.
Final score: Calgary Canucks 42-13 Strathcona Druids.
Please visit J. Ashley Nixon Communications for more photos of the Alberta Championship final.
A note on Canucks rugby history
Prior to the 2019 season, the Calgary Canucks 1st XV was the Alberta champion three times: in 1986, 2001, and 2003. In those seasons, the Alberta Cup was awarded to the league winner amongst all of the teams in Alberta. Since then, a playoff championship was introduced in which the winners of the city finals in Edmonton and Calgary played one another. This is the first time that Calgary Canucks has won the Alberta Cup played out in this way.