Rocky Mountain Rogues book Saratoga Cup berth

Cranbrook rugby football club thumps Fernie’s Elk Valley Bulls RFC to advance to British Columbia provincial championship

Cranbrook’s Rocky Mountain Rogues Rugby Football Club (RFC) (left in white)

Cranbrook’s Rocky Mountain Rogues Rugby Football Club (RFC) (left in white)

Cranbrook’s Rocky Mountain Rogues Rugby Football Club (RFC) is headed back to the Saratoga Cup following a decisive 44-0 victory over the rival Elk Valley Bulls RFC in Kootenay Rugby Union action this past weekend.

“I think we had a good week of practice, both Tuesday and Thursday we had 20-plus of our core guys out at practice,” said Jared MacDonald, who suits up for the Rogues. “We had real good training sessions Tuesday [and] Thursday. The same guys showed up Saturday and everybody knew their job, knew their role and knew exactly what they were going to do going into the game.

“It’s a great group of guys around this area, that’s a big part of it. It’s a family. It’s a good group of guys. We play hard, but we have a lot of fun.”

The Rogues put forth a dominating performance Saturday at College of the Rockies in Cranbrook, shutting out the Bulls only a week after falling by a 52-31 margin in Fernie.

“We came back in the second half there, but it’s hard because we’re struggling for guys each game,” said Todd Larsen, a member of the Rogues, following last week’s loss in Fernie.

With Saturday’s bounce-back win, the Rogues have claimed two of the three games thus far in the four-game season series between the two clubs, with the other a 41-14 triumph in mid-May.

As far as Kootenay Rugby Union standings go, the Rogues hold 11 points while the Bulls sit at five. With a maximum of five points available in each match (a win is worth three points with bonus points awarded based on number of tries) and only one rematch remaining in the series between the only two clubs in the Kootenay Rugby Union, Saturday’s resounding romp over the Bulls provided the Rogues with a berth into the Saratoga Cup — British Columbia’s provincial championship for division three rugby.

“Cranbrook is a much improved team this year,” Bulls captain Adam Foley told Bryn Catton of the Fernie Free Press, following Elk Valley’s 52-31 triumph May 28.

According to MacDonald, the Rogues haven’t been to the Saratoga Cup since making consecutive appearances in 2009 and 2010, so Saturday’s victory is a big one for the squad.

“It’s obviously huge,” MacDonald said. “We have good-calibre rugby in the Kootenay area, but when you’re going to provincials, you’re playing teams that come from all over the province… It’s a huge test for the Rogues going down there. The calibre [of rugby] rises that much more.”

The Saratoga Cup brings together teams from four conferences across the province — the Mainland/Island, Okanagan, Interior and Kootenays. The 2016 Saratoga Cup is scheduled for Sept. 17 to 18 at McNicoll Park Middle School in Penticton.

The Penticton Harlequins RFC claimed the 2015 Saratoga Cup, with Elk Valley RFC having previously won back-to-back provincial crowns in 2013 and 2014.

Even though the Rogues have booked their ticket to the provincial tournament, they aren’t quite ready to look that far ahead. Rocky Mountain RFC heads to Penticton this weekend (June 10 to 12) where they will compete in Sunfest 2016 — an annual tournament hosted by the Harlequins.

Following Sam Steele Days in Cranbrook, the Rogues and Bulls will lock horns one final time in 2016, when they take to the pitch June 24 (2 p.m.) in Fernie.

Though the team is deep into its season, Rocky Mountain Rogues RFC is always looking for new recruits and those wanting to get involved. Anyone interested is encouraged to send a private message via the team’s Facebook page, which can be found by searching Rocky Mountain Rogues.

The Rogues practice every Tuesday (7 p.m. at Marysville Elementary School) and Thursday (7 p.m. at College of the Rockies, Cranbrook).