Ridley Rugby Shines on National Independent School Stage

It was only the first full week of competition, but the First Boys and Girls Rugby teams set the bar high with both teams reaching their respective CAIS National Tournament Championships games and bringing home hardware!
The Ridley Tigers First Boys 7’s rugby team started their spring campaign with three days of solid competition at the CAIS (Canadian Accredited Independent School) Rugby National Tournament hosted by Hillfield Strathallan College. An experienced side of Tiger veterans, such as Ben Mandigo, Christian Ferrante, Rahul Walia, Jaden Kidd and Jimmy Wright (who have competed for Ridley since Grade 7), were complemented by a number of talented rookies, including Perttu Iso-Kuorrti, Mackenzie Kemp-Griffin and Rylee Hlusiak.

After two days of exciting rugby, and a few bumps, bruises and stitches, the Tigers emerged from pool play with a 4-1 record and a first-place bye into the semifinals on Saturday morning. Facing Upper Canada College on a cold and blustery Saturday morning, the Tigers were firing on all cylinders and dominated the semifinal match from start to finish, posting a 41-0 victory over the Blues.

The CAIS championship game featured the Tigers versus the Bishop’s College School Bears, a tough side which had posted the only victory against the Tigers during pool play. The game got off to a promising start, with a deep kick off into the Bears territory, followed by some tough running, rucking and phase play that concluded with a Vlad Nechytalio try under the posts. Mandigo converted on the kick and the Tigers were quickly up 7-0. The rest of the match, descended into a pitched war of attrition, with Ridley pinned deep into their zone for much of the game. Although more accustomed to a freewheeling and highly skilled style of play, the Tigers dug in their heels and played a hard hitting, tenacious style including an inspiring goal line stand to keep the Bears at bay. Late in the second half, the Bears finally broke through for a try, but were unable to convert. With a slim 7-5 lead, the Tigers hung on in the final minutes with some possession rugby and hard runs by Kidd, Heath and Mandigo to capture the CAIS championship.

Members of the team are: AJ Adeyemi, Mackenzie Kemp-Griffin, Vlad Nechytalio, Daniel Jude-Monye, Christian Ferrante, Jimmy Wright, Jaden Kidd, Rylee Hlusiak, Ben Mandigo, Perttu Iso-Kuorrti, Connor Childerhose, Rahul Walia, Kiano Heath and Alula Hilawe. The team is coached by Mr. Kidd, Mr. Arkell and Mr. Grillo.

The First girls rugby team came home with a silver medal from the Canadian Accredited Independent Schools championship tournament. The Tigers lost to St. Michaels University School from British Columbia in the gold medal game after advancing with a dramatic, exhausting triumph over Hillfield-Strathallan in the semifinals. Due to the physically, mentally and emotionally draining semifinal, which went 30 minutes over expected time, coupled with below-freezing temperatures and strong winds, Ridley simply never recovered fully enough to give a fair showing of their skills less than an hour later.

In the semifinal match, Ridley’s pressure finally bore fruit near the close of the first half, and Ade Ireyomi crashed over the line for the opening score. On the ensuing kickoff, HSC battled right back and a wide passing play suddenly had their speedy winger bursting down the line and crossing into the end zone for a marker of her own. In the second half, Ridley again dominated general play, and kept threatening, only to turn the ball over and have HSC launch counterattacks out wide. On one such play, the HSC winger again broke out into open field and seemed certain to score, only to have Katherine Culligan cross laterally across the width of the field to launch a desperate, fully horizontally-extended diving tackle attempt that brought the opposing winger to the ground, saving the game. Ridley dominated the final few minutes, but were unable to close out the game, and the final whistle blew to signal the end of regulation time. Following a quick check of the tournament rules, a sudden death overtime period of two two-minute halves were played, again with neither team able to score, and the outcome was ultimately to be determined by conversion kicks. Ridley and HSC matched each other kick for kick, and miss for miss until Mikayla Itemuagbor and Ava Robertson both successfully slotted back-to-back conversions on the 10th and 11th kicks, and Hillfield made the 10th kick, but missed on the 11th which put Ridley into the gold medal game.

On Day 1 of CAIS rugby action, the 1st Girls’ 7’s team faced three tough battles, but proved victorious in wins over Country Day School from Aurora, Ontario (22-0), Bishop’s College School from Sherbrooke, Quebec (22-12), and Trinity College School from Port Hope, Ontario (15-5). Members of the team are Katherine Culligan, Ade Ireyomi, Mikayla Itemuagbor, Jasmine Kennedy, Brooke Loranger, Jordyn MacIsaac, Hallie McClelland, Avery Penner, Emma Penner, Bronwen Prince, Ava Robertson, Abby Sullivan, Grace Tylee and Madi Wanklyn.

The boys U16 tennis team travelled to Appleby. Noah Sloan had an epic rematch from last year and won in a final tie break while Lucas Vigna narrowly lost his match in a final tie break. (Kumo) John Babe also earned the win while Joe Canham and Johnny Gocking won the decider in a second set tie break.

In a game of two halves, Ridley dropped a 6-2 decision at A.N. Myer in Niagara Falls. The home side capitalized on several Tiger mistakes to open a four-goal halftime lead. Adjustments in the second half, coupled with a better team effort saw, Ridley work its way back into the game. Goals by Eemeli (Larry) Larste and Brendan Ng meant that the second half was a draw in scoring.

Ridley finished tied for fifth in Canadian Independent Schools Athletic Association (CISAA) play at Legends of Niagara Jared Sloan and Luke Kellshall shot a 75 in a two-man scramble score including a beautiful eagle on a par 5 Bradyn Wark and Juan Carlo missed a few putts, but still fired a 74.