Two Cowichan Valley schools finished second in their respective divisions at the provincial high school boys rugby championships that wrapped up in Abbotsford on Saturday.
Shawnigan Lake School finished second in the AAAA competition, and Brentwood College School took silver in the AA Tier 1 competition.
For Shawnigan, this was the first time since 2014 and just the second since 2009 that the Stags have not won the title in the top division, but head coach Tim Murdy put a positive spin on the result.
“We were happy with the boys’ efforts, and look at it more as they won silver rather than lost gold,” he said. “Certainly they would have preferred a different colour medal, but that is sport. They were pushed in both games against very good opposition. Oak Bay are deserving champions as they played very well throughout the tournament.”
Oak Bay defeated Shawnigan 24-13 in the AAAA final last Friday, becoming the first public school since Carson Graham in 2008 to win the top level. Shawnigan had won eight of nine titles since then.
Oak Bay also beat Shawnigan for the Island AAAA title a week before the provincial tournament. Shawnigan defeated St. George’s 31-24 in their semifinal, while Oak Bay beat Carson Graham 52-10 in the other semi.
”We have tried to have our kids reflect on the big picture, and by doing that being very proud of what they accomplished: B.C. Premier League champions, B.C. sevens champions and B.C. AAAA silver medalists,” Murdy said. “As a program, we have had great success being in the last 10 straight finals and winning eight of those titles, so we know what it takes to win and are very excited about next year’s group and that journey.”
No. 8 Dean Mason, a Grade 12 and a mainstay of the national U18 side, was Shawnigan’s representative on the Commissioner’s XV.
“Dean played very well and led from the front,” Murdy said. “He is an uncompromising player who gave it all in both matches, so his recognition was well deserved.”
Brentwood lost to Collingwood 45-29 in the AA Tier 1 final on Saturday, the second time in as many years that the school has finished as runner-up.
“You go into the final wanting to win,” Brentwood head coach Shane Thompson said. “We had a good team, a competitive team. In the end it wasn’t enough. The guys played well, but we came up short.”
Brentwood’s last game against Collingwood prior to the AA final was a 34-5 loss that came immediately after March break. Thompson saw a “much improved [Brentwood] team” on the pitch at provincials.
“We just had a couple of lapses in the game and they got up on us,” the coach said. “We had some injuries to key players that changed how we played. But we still rallied. Collingwood is a good team. They have a lot of good players.”
Brentwood won their quarter-final matchup with Rockridge 79-5, then beat St. Michael’s University School 36-10 in the semifinals after a tight first half.
Jacob Bossi was named to the Commissioner’s XV for Brentwood. Thompson characterized Bossi as a great leader, a reliable player, and a good person.
“He’s always ready to go,” Thompson said. “He goes forward and leads by example.”
A Grade 11, Bossi will be back with Brentwood next year, but the team will lose a significant number of players. Thompson will miss the self-motivated group of Grade 12s as they depart, and hopes their tendencies rub off on their younger teammates.
“I didn’t have to get on them,” he said. “They’re on time, they work hard, they’re reliable. As a coach, I don’t have to do much with these guys in terms of preparation.”
Thompson isn’t sure what to expect next year.
“I didn’t anticipate the results we had this year,” he admitted. “I thought we’d do well, but I didn’t anticipate we would come through like we would.”