July 23rd, 2024

He’s a national champ

By Sean Rooney on August 22, 2017.


srooney@medicinehatnews.com
@MHNRooney

It had been eight years since an Alberta under-16 team won a national rugby title.

On Sunday in Calgary, a Medicine Hat athlete helped make a little history.

Lachlan Hardiker was on the squad that beat British Columbia 34-29 at the Calgary Rugby Park, coming twice from behind to earn gold medals and hoist a trophy at the Canadian Rugby Championship.

“That’s what our coaches kept telling us in the (post-game) meetings, that no matter what we’ll probably be telling our kids one day that we were national champions,” said Hardiker, a 16-year-old who played outside centre for Alberta.

“After the end of the game I got pretty emotional. It’s a pretty good feeling honestly… I’ve never won a provincial championship, so knowing you’re a national champion is even better than that.”

B.C. actually brought three under-16 boys teams to the national tournament, with Alberta beating two of them en route to the title. In a Saturday semifinal Hardiker had his lone try of the week as the host side beat B.C. 2 27-24.

The week had started with a 38-5 loss to B.C. 1, but Alberta didn’t lose again. They beat B.C. 2 20-5 in round robin play last Tuesday, then trounced Ontario 35-7 Wednesday and Newfoundland 72-5 Friday.

Down 15-0 in the final with nary eight minutes elapsed, things could’ve fallen apart. Instead, says Hardiker, his team responded the best way it could.

“I think everybody started actually thinking we could maybe beat them,” he said. “We used it as motivation, not negativity.

Up 17-15 at halftime, Alberta fell behind again in the second half. But Lethbridge’s Jannis Boenn got the winning score “in the last 30 seconds to win it.”

It was a momentous day for Alberta as their under-18 boys beat B.C. 29-26 for gold, and the under-18 girls beat Nova Scotia 43-10 for their title. The under-16 girls win went to Ontario (27-10 over B.C.).

Considering how little rugby Hardiker plays compared to many of his Alberta teammates, it said a lot about him to even make the roster. Tryouts happened in July and he credits local coach Paul Howes with helping him find a tournament after his season with Hat High that let provincial scouts see what he could do.

“It was kind of spontaneous,” said Hardiker. “Paul talked to us saying there was this tournament, from there …

“It’s kind of mind-blowing because everybody else from Edmonton (and Calgary), they’re on bigger and better teams other than just their school. They’re kind of blown away that you just play for your high school.”

Now the question is what could be next in the sport for Hardiker. He’s already back in football season with the Mohawks, so for now that’s his focus.

“Just keep working hard and hopefully it’ll all end up working out for me,” he said.

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