Shawnigan and Brentwood advance in provincial rugby championships

Shawnigan Lake School and Brentwood College took steps forward in their quest for provincial boys rugby championships as the first round of the tournament got under way at Brentwood last Saturday.

Top-seeded Shawnigan began its quest for a sixth consecutive provincial AAA title with a 34-0 win over Gleneagle. Head coach Tim Murdy was pleased with the win but identified areas where his squad can improve.

"We played very well in passages but will need to be more consistent moving forward," he said. Playing on their own turf, Brentwood, the third seed in the AA tournament, managed a convincing 50-20 victory over 14thranked Glenlyon Norfolk. As the tournament moves to Abbotsford on Wednesday, Shawnigan will face AAA ninthseed Yale, and Brentwood will take on Hugh McRoberts, the sixth seed in the AA bracket.

Cowichan Secondary and Frances Kelsey both played exceptional games under the circumstances, but suffered losses on Saturday.

Cowichan, the 14th seed in the AAA tournament, was beaten 33-5 by Oak Bay, while Kelsey, ranked 13th in the AA tourney, lost 41-12 to St. Michael’s University School.

The Cowichan Thunderbirds went into their game missing eight players from the lineup, including half a dozen starters. Despite that, the T-Birds held the Barbarians to a single try through most of the first half, and kept things close with Kyle Joe’s try in the 25th minute. The Barbarians were limited to just two more tries in the second half.

"The T-Birds’ hard running and persistent defence unnerved the dominant Oak Bay side," Cowichan coach Ron Glass said.

Like the T-Birds, the Kelsey Breakers were missing six starters as they squared off with SMUS. The Breakers controlled possession for the first 10 minutes of the match, and got on the board first with a try by Jed Leech.

"The boys played with a ton of heart and held the lead for most of the first half," assistant coach Tom Fogarty said. "However,

towards the end of the half, SMUS’s fitness and speed eventually broke through and they were able to get their attack firing as they put Kelsey under tremendous pressure."

The Breakers continued to battle in the second half, and were rewarded when Leech, a standout in his first year of rugby, scored his second and added a conversion.

In Abbotsford on Wednesday, Cowichan will face 11th-seeded Handsworth, while Kelsey will battle 12th-seeded L.V. Rogers.