T-Birds find success on massive Mainland trip

Cowichan Secondary’s girls rugby teams pulled off the biggest road trip in program history.

The logistics weren’t necessarily easy, but Cowichan Secondary’s girls rugby teams pulled off the biggest road trip in program history — in numerical terms, at least — taking more than 40 players to the Mainland for two days last weekend.

“We travelled with a full senior and junior side,” head coach Brad Skene said. “I was impressed that almost every member of the squad was able to organize their individual schedules so that 43 student athletes could enjoy a weekend away as a group and play some pretty good rugby.”

The trip opened on Friday with the Cowichan junior team earning a 15-15 tie with what was essentially a senior team from Gleneagle on tries by Jenna Batty, Sofie Bloss and Melanie Robertson.

“This was proposed to be a junior game, but a number of seniors made there way on their field,” Skene said. “The coaches were impressed with how the juniors played in a hard and physical game. For our juniors to play to a tie against a senior team is impressive.”

That same day, the Cowichan senior team defeated Burnaby North 41-0. Danielle Hill had two tries, Emily Lindsay had a try and three conversions, and Syan Johnston, Maddie Pirie, Megan Lewis and Emily Nickerson had one try apiece.

“We had an explosive start and showed a lot of ball movement and attacking flair in the game,” Skene said. “Burnaby North lacked offensive organization but their defensive intensity was very good. The score looks one-sided but they made us work for our tries.”

The juniors were edged 12-10 by an actual junior team from Yale the next day. Robertson scored both Cowichan tries.

“Our juniors came up against a very well organized and skilled Yale junior team,” Skene said. “We had moments of individual success but lacked cohesion as a team. Our ball-carrying was evasive and fast, but too many times we were isolated in the tackle.”

The senior Thunderbirds also lost to Yale, the two-time defending Fraser Valley champs and a consistent top-four team in the province. Nickerson, Jamie Needham and Drew Hobday had tries in the 21-15 setback.

“We went to Abbotsford for a hard, physical battle against a top team and we got it,” Skene said. “We are a young team and I was impressed how we stepped up and competed against a physically bigger and more experienced team. Yale put us under tremendous pressure when they had the ball and when we had the ball.

“Our decision-makers created a high level of ball movement, and committed hard running along with tight support put us into scoring positions.”