Cowichan Secondary’s girls rugby teams shrugged off the snow last Friday for a preseason tournament on the school field, and the program’s substantial depth was on full display.
“Our program has never had a day like this,” Thunderbirds coach Brad Skene said. “We put three different teams and over 60 players on the field with a record of four wins and one loss. Sixteen different scorers in one day. It was an outstanding day for T-Bird rugby. Approximately 30 athletes played rugby for the first time and almost looked like they knew what they were doing.”
Cowichan’s senior team started the day with a 29-12 win over Alberni District Secondary. Taylynn Smid scored twice, Syan Johnson, Mia Eagar and Megan Lewis had one each, and Maddie Pirie and Amy Oakes each kicked a conversion.
“Port Alberni made a strong effort, especially in the first half,” Skene said. “We tried to play a wider style of attack and under wet, cold and muddy conditions, our skills broke down. We regrouped in the second half and we were able to move the ball into space.”
The Cowichan juniors then lost 39-12 to Alberni. Victoria Van Niekerk and Kaitlyn Crichton had tries, and Lucy Boon slotted a conversion.
“This was a tight game until Alberni subbed in some senior players with experience and we played our most inexperienced,” Skene recalled. “I thought the young kids stepped up in the face of adversity. A number of young, new faces to the program showed that they have learned a lot in a short period of time.”
In the next match, the T-Birds’ development team defeated Frances Kelsey 32-0. Melanie Robertson scored three times, Lauren Rivera, Sadie Tucker and Eve Truhn had single tries, and Boon kicked a conversion.
“This was a great result for our returning Grade 10s and a couple of 9s along with a large number of rookie Grade 11s and 12s,” Skene said. “The group stuck to the game plan and looked very much like rugby players against a very committed and physical Kelsey team.”
The seniors were back in action with a 19-5 win over Vanier. Lewis, Rivera and Brigitte Reid scored tries, and Oakes kicked two more conversions.
“For most of this game, it was a battle between two old foes,” Skene said. “Both teams put a lot of attacking pressure on the other’s defence and it was a very intense game for the fist day of the season. We were fortunate to stay composed and work through some errors to gain a win.”
The Cowichan juniors ended the day with a 25-0 win over Vanier. Crichton, Maxine O’Leary, Elly Hajdu, Matisse Ward and Jezlyn Cardinal did the scoring.
“This was awesome,” Skene said. “We are really proud of our Grade 8s, 9s and a couple of new Grade 10s. They are a very keen group with a lot of potential, and to see them achieve a win together was outstanding.”