The Cowichan Secondary Thunderbirds opened the senior boys rugby season on Tuesday with a 26-15 victory at home over the previously undefeated Vanier Towhees in front of an impressive home crowd.
Vanier showed up with strong numbers, while the T-Birds weren’t sure what to expect in their debut match of the year.
“This was our first home game of the season,” Cowichan head coach Tom Fogarty noted. “And we didn’t really know how we would fare, as we had yet to play any competitive rugby. We have a lot of rookies in the squad, with about 60 per cent of the team being brand new to the game, but they are all very eager to learn and they all showed true Cowichan grit in the way they got stuck in and gave it their all.”
Vanier started strong and scored a quick unconverted try to take the lead, but the T-Birds replied by running the ball into the Vanier end. A well-timed chip kick from fly-half Logan Kits allowed rookie fullback Thore Labrenz to dive on the ball in the try zone to get the T-Birds on the board.
Cowichan’s hard running and tackling dominated the rest of the match, as Justin Marinier, Kits and Reid Hebbert also scored. Vanier added a couple of late tries, but it was too late for them to close the gap. Prop forwards Liam Simmonds and Dylan Taylor showed plenty of ferocity, and flanker Franz (Das Auto) Cherubin was named Man of the match after making more than 20 tackles.
Improved numbers this season allowed the T-Birds to play a doubleheader for the first time in at least four years, with the junior team playing a 12-a-side match prior to the senior test. Cowichan and Vanier tied that one with one try apiece. The junior T-Birds were led by Grade 10 fly-half Cullen Plester, who Fogarty said showed great poise and control, and prop Harry Seymour, who made several “fearsome tackles” throughout the match.
The T-Birds are at Claremont’s Scrumfest tournament this weekend, and play their next league game against Nanaimo District on April 18.