Marmots down Rowers in exhibition battle 

"Not bad for a bunch of ski bums," is how John Gideon, captain of the Whistler Hoary Marmots Rugby Football Club, likes to put it.

Last weekend the Marmots hosted an exhibition team from the Vancouver Rowers RFC, a premier division club. They didn’t bring their top side, but a collection from several different levels of teams within the organization – which suited Whistler’s own patchwork team of rookies, experienced players, Aussies, Kiwis and Canadians.

While some of Whistler’s stronger players couldn’t make the home game on Saturday afternoon, the Marmots who did turn up came out quickly in the beginning, then held off a strong Rowers counterattack to win 50-38 – eight tries and five conversions to five tries, five conversions and a penalty goal.

"It was really good, we scored lots of tries in the game and they kept coming back at us," said Gideon. "We were missing some key players… but we did really well with what we had and pulled it out of the hat. Everyone ended up playing some of the game, the weather held up nicely – it was a nice way to get that first home win."

The Marmots played their first games at a Canada Day long weekend tournament in Williams Lake, winning one and losing one. Every year for the past five they have also hosted the Rowers for an exhibition game, and this is the second year that the Marmots have come out with a win.

"I think we just played a very simple game, we didn’t try to go off on our own a lot and make mistakes, we retained the ball better in contact, we didn’t commit too many players to the rucks, we had decent communication on defence, we finished our tackles, and we had a few young players that did really well," said Gideon. "The players that were inexperienced listened well, covered the gaps well, and when they did break through because of a lapse of some kind they rallied and didn’t let it get them down. We took it seriously, but tried to have some fun out there as well."

The Marmots are back in action this Saturday at the Simon Fraser University Sevens Tournament, and Gideon says they will be bringing their top players to field one competitive side. After that the Marmots are busy with home games lined up through the month of August, and a Whistler-hosted 10-a-side tournament.

The team is always looking for new players; no experience required. The Marmots practice every Tuesday and Thursday at Whistler Secondary School, starting at 6 p.m.

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