Brentwood College and Shawnigan Lake School are both in contention for provincial high school boys rugby titles as their tournaments take place in Abbotsford this week.
Both schools are seeded second as they head into their respective B.C. championship tournaments, Brentwood in the AA division and Shawnigan in the AAAA competition.
Brentwood is coming off a 44-22 win over St. Michaels University School in the AA Island final at UVic last Wednesday, while Shawnigan was edged 20-15 by Oak Bay in the AAAA Island final.
Brentwood was up 32-0 at halftime of their final, only to see SMUS come back and make it interesting in the second half.
“It shows the guys have to continue to do better things,” Brentwood head coach Shane Thompson said. “We gave the opportunity to SMUS and they took advantage of it.”
It’s been an up and down season for Brentwood, Thompson acknowledged, but the team has settled down recently.
“During the last month, we’ve had a pretty successful campaign,” he said. “The guys are feeling confident. It will be interesting to see what happens when we get more pressure. When teams are better at defence, it makes it harder to do things.”
The most positive aspect for Thompson is that this is a very self-organized group, starting with the senior players.
“I feel like, as a coach, when I’m doing my job right, I don’t have to do too much,” he said. “More than the results, the way they’ve come together has been very impressive. They’re a good bunch of kids.”
Brentwood is ranked second in the province behind Collingwood, with SMUS seeded third. Brentwood lost 34-5 to Collingwood in a Stadium Series game at Swangard Stadium on April 7, although Thomson feels his team didn’t react well to the situation, returning from spring break, travelling to Vancouver and missing some players.
“We’re more organized now,” he said. “I feel it will be a different matchup this time.”
If Brentwood is to play Collingwood again, it won’t be until the final, and they will have to win two other games to get there. Brentwood plays seventh-seeded Rockridge in the first round, and if they win that, they will play the winner of SMUS and Langley. Brentwood beat Rockridge 61-0 in a Stadium Series game at Shawnigan Lake School on May 4, but Thompson isn’t taking anything for granted.
“Obviously, our goal is to make the final,” he said. “But we have to get through the first step.”
Brentwood will open against Rockridge at 9 a.m. on Wednesday. The winner of that match will play in the semifinals on Thursday at 2 p.m. The AA Tier 1 final is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Shawnigan coach Tim Murdy called Oak Bay “deserving winners” of the AAAA Island final. Shawnigan could get another crack at Oak Bay if they reach their provincial final. To get there, Shawnigan will have to beat third-ranked St. George’s, while Oak Bay will gave to get by fourth-seeded Carson Graham.
“The field looks very even and competitive this year,” Murdy said. “It should be interesting.”
Shawnigan meets St. George’s at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. The AAAA final goes on Friday at 5:30 p.m.