Although they played only exhibition matches this spring, it was undoubtedly a successful season for the Cowichan Secondary School Thunderbirds boys rugby team.
After two years without high school sports, the team returned to action this year, but due to low numbers and eligibility issues — new students this year were ineligible to play — the team opted to stick to an exhibition schedule. But head coach Tom Fogarty was still pleased with the way things went.
“I believe that this was the most skillful team I’ve ever coached at the high school level,” he said. “The season was a lot of fun with some excellent attacking rugby on display, and the team was able to find much success.”
The T-Birds played a total of six games, including home-and-home sets with Port Alberni and Claremont, and away games against provincial contenders Brentwood College and Shawnigan Lake School. They won five of the six, the lone loss a narrow defeat at the hands of Shawnigan.
“This talented group of young men showed an abundance of hard work, commitment, pride and determination, which was necessary as we ended up playing our final two games with only two players to use as replacements. As the season concluded, we suffered a few injuries to key players, and it became clear that playing exhibitions was the right call.”
Full-back Stan Stone was named Cowichan’s Rookie of the Year, fly-half Rio (Boot) Apt was named Back of the Year, prop/hooker Harry (Bear) Seymour was named Forward of the Year, lock Quinn Senych received the Torch Award, and centre and captain Jaxon Jones was named team MVP.
Several of the Cowichan players will go on to play rugby at higher levels, including provincially and nationally.
The T-Birds were sponsored this season by Pemberton Holmes (Jason Finlayson), Source Online Bookkeeping, Nexus Modular Solutions, and Side Hill Firewood.