The Eastman Warriors are Rugby Manitoba Premier Grand Final champions.
The Warriors defeated the reigning champion U of M Wombats 39-29 Saturday afternoon at Maple Grove Rugby Park in Winnipeg.
It’s the first time in its 144-year history that a rugby squad from outside Winnipeg has won the Premier Cup.
“It feels amazing to win this Premiership Final with an undefeated record which shows the hard work that the team put in during the season,” noted Isi Masi who is Eastman’s tighthead prop and anchor of the scrum. “It’s extra special to have the President of Rugby Manitoba remind us, as he handed us the trophy, that it has never been won by a team outside of Winnipeg.”
Jale Kaukirewa and Ioan Evans scored two tries each for the Warriors who lost the 2022 Grand Final to the Wombats. RT. David Lautiki and Marika Tamani had one try each.
Simeli Maivalu added a penalty kick and made three conversions.
“This year our three coaches (Ifereimi Kaukirewa, Darian Brown & Sione Akau) focused in on simple basic rugby and making sure we that the strength and conditioning,” stated Masi who also serves as Eastman Warriors’ rugby club president. “They talked about the two mistakes we can make in any sport which is physical and mental. The physical mistake would be seen at any level of the game – amateur to professional. The mental is that we can control how we respond.”
Masi explained how the Warriors were able to rally from a 15-7 deficit and earn their 39-29 victory over Wombats.
“It was the combination of working together as a team, strengthening our weak areas and believing we can win. The U of M Wombats is a great team that’s won this championship a few years in a row, and they really pushed us to the end.”
2023 Eastman Warriors – Rugby Manitoba Premier Grand Final champions
Forwards: Jessie Franklin, Rogers Gworo, Adam Porte, Ioan Evans, Manoa Masi, Alex Nadeau & RT. David Lautiki
Backs: Elsworth Maas, Marika Tamani, Dominic Wendoh, Simeli Maivalu, Petero Vereakula, Ifereimi Bakosokoso & Jale Kaukirewa
Impact: Isi Masi, Eddie Monnet, Jonathan Thring, Paula Keresi, Ifereimi Batirerega, Rao Leoniki, Jermaine Akaramo & Juan Claude Jordan
Reserves: Myles Stobert, Erenato Lomanikovuravura, Tim Lowlor, Adam Wollmann & Guilherne De Costa
Coaches: Ifereimi Kaukirewa, Darian Brown & Sione Akau