A Rocky Mountain Rogues player braces to be tackled by members of the Elk Valley Bulls during a recent game in Fernie. (Photo courtesy of Rocky Mountain Rogues Facebook page)

Rocky Mountain Rogues ready for battle for Saratoga Cup berth on Saturday

Local men’s rugby team to play Fernie-based Elk Valley Bulls in must-win game at COTR field

The Rocky Mountain Rogues have grown accustomed to tight games against the Elk Valley Bulls in front of good-sized crowds, but this weekend should take it to another level.

On Saturday, the Cranbrook-Kimberley based Rogues will meet Fernie’s Elk Valley Bulls at 1 p.m. at the College of the Rockies field in Cranbrook during the Sam Steele Days festival weekend.

With the series at 2-1 in favour of the Rogues, the winner of the game will be the Kootenays representative at the Saratoga Cup, a provincial men’s rugby championship for smaller clubs across the province.

“It’s two close teams this year,” said Rogues captain and club vice-president, Jared MacDonald. “Fernie’s got a really good team and every game we play has been close, points wise.

“It’s just two teams battling and it all comes down to this weekend.”

In addition to the always entertaing rivalry, Macdonald said that the Sam Steele Days backdrop should provide a very exciting atmosphere.

“[With the festival], we have a lot of past Rogues [players] coming back to watch us and it’s going to be a great time,” he said. “The Fernie guys are coming in and they plan on staying the night [so] we’re going to host them here.

“We’ll be going down and taking in all the beer gardens and events Sam Steele Days has to offer. There should be a really good turnout Saturday.”

In the weeks leading up to the game, MacDonald says the team has been working hard and are in good shape to pull out a big victory.

“We’ve been working hard in our practices [and] had good numbers with lots of guys turning out,” he said. “A bunch of guys have been doing a lot of stuff on their own after work and stuff like that, staying in shape, so we should have a good showing this weekend.”

In order to be successful, the captain believes that the team must focus on the small elements of the game: running effectively and being physical.

“We’ve always been a good running team and that’s one thing we’ve been working on … in practice we’ve had lots of running, playing tight [and] a lot of tackling too,” MacDonald said. “It’s a physical game so we don’t shy away from it in practice.

“It might not be the most fun thing to do, but it gets the guys ready for the game.”

Following the men’s game on Saturday, at 4 p.m. the women’s Rogues team will be playing Fernie as well. It will be the team’s fourth game of the year and they have been steadily improving.

The men’s Rogues were the region’s Saratoga Cup representatives last year and finished in third place. This year’s event will be held from July 29 to 30 in Penticton.