Coach Pat Parfrey isn't one for hyperbole when it comes to his rugby teams, so while he believes his Statoil Newfoundland under-18 squad has the potential to be as good as the best age-group sides this province has ever produced, he's content to take a wait-and-see attitude.
The Rock U18s went undefeated in five games, earning the gold medal at the Eastern Canadian rugby championships held at the Swillers Complex in St. John's over the weekend
The U18s capped off their terrific weekend by defeating New Brunswick 27-11 in Sunday morning's championship game.
"How good this team is going to be will be determined in the next month ... how the team trains and how they do at the nationals," said Parfrey.
The Canadian nationals are slated for next month in Vancouver.
"The team has the potential to play well," Parfrey said.
"The players are gifted offensively and they really stepped up defensively during the weekend. If they train hard and maintain their improvement and play properly at nationals, then we'll be comparing them to the few teams from here who have beaten Ontario."
Parfrey mentioned such great U18 local sides from the past that defeated powerhouse Ontario, including Andrew Fagan's team of 2002, Newfoundland's silver-medal winning under-19 entry at the 1998 Canada Games and Peter Densmore's 1994 team.
Densmore is a co-coach of the current U18 squad.
"If they win a silver or a gold medal at his level, then they would be considered one of our very best. We've never won a gold medal at this level," noted Parfrey.
Tony Pomroy scored two tries and kicked a penalty for the winners in the title contest. Sean O'Grady, Ryan Subject each had one try and Marc Petro kicked two conversions.
Newfoundland's Joel Tompkins was named player of the tournament.
After posting a 3-0 round-robin record, Newfoundland advanced to the final by defeating Nova Scotia 38-5 in their playoff opener.
Tomkins, Malcom Salmon, Trevor Bessette, Kyle Stanley, Justin Aylward and Pomroy had the tries.
Nova Scotia beat Prince Edward Island 27-14 for the bronze medal.
Parfrey said there's lots of work to be done before this U18 group can claim to be one of our province's best.
The Newfoundland side showed all weekend an ability to put together dangerous attacks, but Parfrey warned things will get tougher from here on and how the team responds to the extra pressure will probably have a great deal to do with their medal chances at the nationals.
"(Sunday's)) game was pretty physical and they were broken down a little bit," noted Parfrey.
"So if they are not able to handle the increased physicality from British Columbia and Ontario, they won't be able to put that type of sophisticated rugby together. We need to toughen up and hang on to the ball when tackled."
Parfrey did point out the current U18 teams has plenty of depth.
"We've got 25 players who can play at the same level on this team," he said.
Members of the gold-medal wining team are Kyle Stanley, Justin Aylward, Robert Burry, Connor Simms, Shane Froude, Alex O'Keefe, Malcolm Salmon, Nathan Thomas, Patrick Dalton, Kaelan Mahoney, Sam Newhook, Joel Tompkins, Daniel Aylward, Matthew Murphy, Mitch Ryan, Kieran Lacey, Tony Pomroy, Colin Kavanagh, David Johnson, Gud Bjarnason, Trevor Bessette, Greg Dodge, Sean O'Grady, Peter Walsh, Ben Coughlin, Ryan Subject, Mark Connolly and Marc Petro; coaches Pat Parfrey, Peter Densmore and Geoff Warden.
The under-18 division was one of five that saw competition at the Eastern Canadian championships, held over the weekend at the Swilers Complex.
Nova Scotia defeated Newfoundland 77-0 and 88-0 in the two-game under-20 series.
New Brunswick defeated Newfoundland 27-5 in the bronze medal game.
The gold went to Nova Scotia with a 20-0 win over P.E.I.
New Brunswick defeated Newfoundland 22-0 in the gold medal game.
The host team advanced to the final by beating Prince Edward Island 25-0.
The Rock senior women gave Nova Scotia Keltics all they could handle in the two-game, total-points series before falling by eight points.
Nova Scotia won 23-19 in the first game and 28-24 in the second game.