Williams Lake Rustlers teammates Jake Ilnicki (left) and Riley Ilnicki (third from left) of the Castaway Wanderers

Williams Lake Rustlers teammates Jake Ilnicki (left) and Riley Ilnicki (third from left) of the Castaway Wanderers

Rustlers talent shines at Barnard Cup

Four lakecity rugby players were a part of the Vancouver Island Rugby Union Elite Division final.

High winds flattened the grass on Wallace Field on the University of Victoria campus on Dec. 5, but the winds were nothing compared to the vigour of the rugby played by the Castaway Wanderers RFC  and the University of Victoria Vikes.

The Barnard Cup was at stake.

The Castaway Wanderers sought to wrestle ownership of the Cup from the Vikes, barring a repeat of last year’s championship for UVIC.

For the Vikes, it was the prospect of an undefeated fall season in the Vancouver Island Rugby Union Elite Division.

Adding a touch of provincial scope to the championship game, there were four Williams Lake Rustlers on the pitch — the Ilnicki brothers, Riley and Jake for the Castaway Wanderers and Nathan Stewart and Liam Chisholm for UVIC.

UVIC would take the Barnard Cup, 24-5, when the dust settled.

The university side proved most resilient on the day scoring penalty kicks with the wind and tries when running a hole in the wild headwinds through the second half.

Fergus Hall had the pin-point boot for the penalties, putting Castaway Wanderers on the ropes early in the game.

Then Crosby Stewart torched the field for a hat trick of tries to seal the game for UVIC.

While the UVIC defense was stout, Castaways did manage a try late in the game.

Both Victoria teams have qualified  for the BC Rugby Union Premier Division.

Games in the Premier Division will commence in late January, pitting the Victoria squads against powerhouse UBC Thunderbirds, the perennial favourites Capilano RFC and a slate of other teams from across the Lower Mainland and Seattle.