Cowichan Secondary’s Justin Marinier battles Shawnigan defenders during the cup final at last Thursday’s inaugural North Island School Sevens. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

T-Birds take inaugural North Island School Sevens Invitational title

Plans underway to expand tournament next year

The host Cowichan Secondary Thunderbirds finished on top of the field at the inaugural North Island Secondary School Sevens Invitational Tournament at Piggy Park last Thursday.

The T-Birds emerged as the best team in the first-ever event, defeating Shawnigan Lake School’s B team by a convincing 24-0 score in the cup final to cap off a perfect 3-0 record on the day.

“The Cowichan boys came out firing and did not let their foot off the gas,” T-Birds coach Tom Fogarty said.

In addition to Cowichan Secondary and Shawnigan, the tournament also included teams from Mark R. Isfeld, G.P. Vanier, Alberni District, and a Cowichan South entry made up of players from Cow High, Frances Kelsey and Ladysmith.

“The tournament was put on as a way to showcase the growing sevens version of rugby — now an Olympic sport — and give this special experience to the athletes,” Fogarty explained. “The idea was that it would provide a valuable playing experience for Island athletes, and it would also be a fun way to end the season.”

Each team played two pool games, followed by a final ranking match. Vanier beat Alberni in the plate final for third place, and Isfeld defeated Cowichan South in the bowl final for fifth. Cow High players Justin Marinier, Logan Kits, Dylan Taylor and Thore Labrenz won the President’s Select awards as standout players of the tournament.

Players, coaches and parents were all pleased with the tournament, and organizers plan to expand the tournament next year to include girls teams as well.

The tournament was made possible by the support of the Cowichan Rugby Football Club, which provided facilities, Coast Roofing, which sponsored the event and supplied hot dogs and drinks, and Heritage House, which provided silverware and awards.

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