The Cowichan Secondary School senior boys rugby team kept busy over the last three weeks, playing in the Scrum Fest tournament at Claremont on April 11-13, followed by a pair of league games in Nanaimo and Port Alberni.
The Thunderbirds took a team made up largely of rookies and junior players to Scrum Fest, where they went 0-3 against strong Mainland teams, but learned some important lessons. Grade 9 inside centre Jaxon Jones and Grade 10 flanker Keegan Favel-Lee stood out at the tournament and set themselves up as players to watch in the future.
“Unfortunately we ended up on the short end of all three close games,” head coach Tom Fogarty noted. “But the boys gained invaluable experience that will do us well as the season progresses.”
Because of the gruelling schedule, several players, including six starters, were sidelined with injuries for the T-Birds in their next league game against Nanaimo District Secondary, and the absences were felt in a 27-0 loss.
“NDSS were especially good defensively,” Fogarty commented. “And they will certainly be the front-runners for the North Island this season.”
With a week to recover, the T-Birds got most of their injured players back in time to beat the Alberni District Armada 49-5 last Thursday.
“It was a fast and furious start by the T-Birds,” Fogarty said. “And they quickly put points on the board with hard running by the forwards combined with silky smooth handling in the backs.”
Forwards did the lion’s share of the scoring against the Armada, with two tries each by Franz (Das Auto) Cherubim and Dylan Taylor, and one each from lock Aydan Crawford-Starter, prop Braeden Nash and flanker John Walker. Fly-half Logan Kits made sure the backs weren’t left out as he scored twice.
“He was carving holes in the Armada defence all day, and particularly excellent in the way he was communicating and leading from the front in the tackle area,” Fogarty said of Kits.
Nash shared Player of the Game honours with back Cullen Plester and winger Andrew Haywood.
The junior T-Birds played host to Alberni on Tuesday afternoon, and the seniors played at home against Mark Isfeld on Thursday.