Graduates of Brentwood College and Shawnigan Lake schools were front and centre as the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds and University of Victoria Vikes squared off for the gold medal at the Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship on a snowy field in Kingston, Ont. last Sunday.
Brentwood alumni Matt Percillier and Jacob Bossi and Shawnigan grads Evan Norris, Connor Sinclair and Jose Palero Aleman led UBC to a 39-7 victory over UVic, which included former Brentwood players Liam Mitchell, Ayo Ogunlade and Hanno Fourie, and former Shawnigan players Jenner Teufel, Nathan Bice and Graeme Norris in a reversal of the last national university championship final in 2019.
While the final featured two West Coast rivals, the weather was more what the Ontario teams are used this time of year as ice formed on the players’ cleats. It wasn’t completely unfamiliar to Percillier, however.
“I had practiced on those conditions,” he said “But never had a game where it was coming in sideways like that.”
The conditions also reminded him of playing touch rugby at Brentwood in the snow, and there were times when it was almost a distraction as Percillier considered the chances that he would ever be in a similar situation.
“I didn’t know the next time I’d be able to play a final in that kind of weather,” he said.
Naturally, there were jokes about B.C. boys not being used to the weather.
“As true as that may be, it wasn’t too bad,” Percillier commented. “We do play in the rain when it’s two degrees outside. We train 365 days of the year. It doesn’t really impact it that much.”
The Ontario teams, Percillier pointed out, do train indoors for much of the winter.
UBC opened the tournament in better weather conditions against the Royal Military College Paladins, who were playing only minutes away from their home pitch. The T-Birds weren’t too concerned about the Paladins, but knew they couldn’t be caught off guard.
“They were ready to go, so we made sure we were ready to go too,” Percillier recalled.
After a 66-0 win over RMC, UBC took on the host Queen’s University Golden Gaels, with Brentwood grads Santiago Guadarrama and Cole Hickey in the mix.
“They had the backing of the whole school behind them,” Percillier said. “There was a little bit of heckling, but the boys did a good job with that. They knew what they had to do.”
Queen’s kept up with UBC for a stretch, but UBC pulled away in the second half for a 41-20 victory that sent them to the final against UVic.
Percillier wasn’t on the team that lost to UVic in 2019, but he still wasn’t short on motivation to win the rematch, with several familiar faces on the other side.
“It was cool playing against guys I used to play with in high school,” he said.
In a similar vein, he enjoyed playing alongside some former Shawnigan rivals.
“It’s fun having that Brentwood/Shawnigan rivalry still there but used in different ways,” he said. “To play on the same team and win championships together gives you a different perspective.”
The T-Birds will look to defend their title on home soil next year when the 2022 Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship comes to UBC.