BY COLE SHELTON
The Bear Cup is on the line.
On Saturday, the Bruins and the Grizzlies will play for the Bear Cup. The game has become an annual tradition after Sheridan’s men’s rugby program started to attract more athletes and become a better team. Georgian was always the top team in the OCAA and once Sheridan improved, the rivalry really took off.
“Well, to be quite honest, it’s only been recently,” said Sheridan head coach Rick Bria about Georgian and Sheridan’s rivalry. “We are a very young program, we haven’t had — up until last year — much success, as we had hoped to have. Really, the rivalry has only been going on since last year. Huge game coming up.”
Georgian dominated with home-field advantage in the first meeting between the two teams. The Grizzlies started off hot from the get-go and defeated the Bruins 50-17.
It is a tough task to defeat the Grizzlies, but the coaching staff believes it can be done. The Bruins have lost two in a row, but that isn’t affecting Sheridan’s confidence. They believe they have what it takes to win the game.
“First and foremost we have to be awake at kickoff. We need to be focused, we need to (be) alert,” added Bria. “We need to be firing on all cylinders. We had a good week of practice and I think we will come out with a strong performance.”
Georgian is undefeated this season and has taken a huge step forward in terms of talent. For Sheridan, after winning it all last year, many players graduated leaving the Bruins to rely on rookies.
“In my opinion and our coaching staff’s opinion, we believe we are pretty comparable. We have unfortunately lost about half a dozen really good players. However, the players that have come in this year have really stepped up, they are really filling the void,” Bria said.
“As far as comparing the two, our biggest strength last year was our backs. We had good forwards, but a little bit more talent in our backs. This year we are a little more balanced. One unit isn’t stronger than the other unit. We are pretty happy with the way things are going.”
While the game will be for the Bear Cup to Jad Hamade, Sheridan’s captain and last year’s MVP is just worried about beating Georgian.
“It’s not really the focus of our season. It is just another game,” Hamade said. “Obviously, we are trying to win as many games as possible. The Bear Cup is just the cherry on top.”
A win would be an important one for the Bruins, who are just a game ahead of Seneca Sting for second place in the West division. For Hamade and the Bruins, the goal is simple for this week and moving forward when playoffs come.
“It’s the same as last year. Just one game at a time,” added Hamade. “Be better than yesterday and keep improving day by day. Just focus on what is in front of us, and worry about what is going to happen later on.”
While Sheridan is saying it is just another game, for Georgian, with the West division already won, it is now all about winning the Bear Cup. The Grizzlies are looking to dominate the Bruins again from the get-go and finish the season undefeated and head into the playoffs as the top team in the OCAA.
“Georgian takes all matchups very serious, especially when there is a cup on the line,” said Nick Anton, a first-year lock for the Grizzlies. “We’ve been playing in the Bear Cup for a few years now and it’s a great tradition.”
While the Grizzlies have had a great season so far, they are expecting the same result on Saturday. After the first meeting, Anton and the Grizzlies know they are better than Sheridan.
“We match up very well against Sheridan. We have a great mix of size and speed,” added Anton.
The game will take place on Saturday at Trafalgar Campus at noon.
UPDATE: Sheridan defeated Georgian 40-21 to win the Bear Cup. The Grizzlies rested most of their starters with first-place already locked down but it was a huge win for the Bruins.
— Sheridan Bruins (@sheridanbruins) October 20, 2018