Since its inception in 1923, Brentwood has cultivated and nurtured a vibrant rugby tradition within our well-rounded tri-partite system. Many Brentonians have represented Canada at the international level, and many provincial championship banners hang in the Woodward Sportsplex. Recent history continues to reflect the strength of our program: in the past five years, Brentwood boys and girls teams have finished in the top three at the provincial level, winning the boys' championship in 2008, 2009 and 2012. The girls won the provincial title in 2009, and have been a top 4 team for the past 5 years, winning silver medals in 2010 and 2011, and bronze in 2014 and silver 2017. Brentwood has produced 16 international test rugby players, more than any other school in Canada.
The rugby program’s coaching staff includes former international players and coaches, as well as university and club players. Some of these coaches have coached senior provincial teams (men and women), the Canada 7s team and the U20 National Team and regional representative teams. The cumulative experience of the Brentwood College rugby coaching staff provides unparalleled insight into this fast game, and the underlying philosophy is to ensure that the students have fun and play fairly.
A number of Brentwood students have gone on to play for prestigious universities in Canada, the USA and Britain. Dating back to the 1960’s, 16 Brentwood graduates have earned full test honours for Canada or the USA. Ro Hindson (Class of 1969) in addition to playing for Canada played for a World XV. Gregor Dixon was a key member and captain of Canada’s 7s programs as well as earning full test honours. More recent test players have been Marlee Hahn, who has represented the USA Women on the international stage and Adam McQueen who played for Canada this year in the North American Rugby Championships. Other recent players of note are Rona Mitchell who earned 4 Oxford Blues while studying engineering at Oxford, and captained the Oxford side during her final two seasons. Dani Robb has won a CIS National Championship with St. Francis Xavier University, and she has also represented Canada at the U-20 level.
The approach to rugby at Brentwood is simple- teach players how to play an exciting and competitive brand of rugby and develop a life-long passion for the game.
Rugby is the major team sport for Grade 9 boys in the first term. All boys have the opportunity to represent the school in competitive play. The boys are involved in the mid-Island competition, as well as the Independent Schools Association (ISA) league. They also play in the Vancouver Island league.The Grade 10 (with some Grade 9 students) and senior rugby is offered in all three terms. Skill development and fitness are the focus in the first and second term. In the third term the 1st and 2nd XV teams play in a north Island league. The 1st XV also competes in a Premier Exhibition League comprising the top 10 teams in BC, and annually competes for a place in the BC provincial championship. Over all three terms, the senior rugby squad follows a comprehensive strength and conditioning program.The rugby program tours on a regular basis. Recent tours have taken teams to France, Australia, Argentina, Scotland, New Zealand, Fiji, and California.
Rugby is one of the fastest growing team sports for girls and women in the world and has found a very comfortable home at Brentwood College School. Girls' rugby was introduced in 2003 on an experimental basis. It proved so popular that a team was formed the following year and played its inaugural match in March, 2004. A 20-12 victory sealed the program's future, and the team went on to win successive tier II (emerging programs) provincial championships in 2004 and 2005. The Brentwood girls won the AA (competitive) Provincial Championship in 2009, and have been a top four team in the province for the past 5 years, winning silver medals in 2011 and 2012, and bronze in 2014. The girls program consistently sends players to some of the top university programs in Britain, the USA and Canada. Like the boys, the girls follow a comprehensive strength and conditioning program throughout the year in preparation for their competitive season.
Rugby is offered in all three terms and is open to all grades and all ability levels. Second term rugby concentrates on the acquisition of basic skills: ball handling, tackling, kicking, and strategy. In the third term, the team enters its competitive season with the girls' 1st XV playing in the South Island league and competing at the AA level at the BC provincial championships.
B.A., M.A. (Victoria) History, Social Studies, Rugby
A native of sunny Kelowna, British Columbia, Steve Cowie graduated with honours from the University of Victoria in 1975, majoring in history and English, then completed his Masters in history in 1976. He has played rugby for the UVic Vikings, Castaways, the Island Crimson Tide, and Cowichan. As the second longest serving member of the Brentwood faculty, Mr. Cowie is a "lifer" seven times over and now teaches the sons and daughters of students he taught in the early years. He has taught history, geography, English, and law, while coaching at every level of rugby, basketball, golf and tennis. He has had the priviledge of coaching the girls rugby team as well as the Island Tsunami U18 girls team. Though Dr. Johnson defined a historian as "a hopeless drudge", Mr. Cowie tries to make history come alive in the classroom with his passion for teaching and his belief that inspiration and encouragement are the greatest motivators. He likes to think this keeps him eternally young at heart. Mr. Cowie and his wife, Sheila, have two sons - David and Nathan.
B.A. (University of Washington) Deputy Head Student Life, Rugby
After working for 17 years at Shawnigan Lake School, as a houseparent, teacher, in admissions, as an athletic director and a rugby coach, Mr. Felix returned to Brentwood in 2001 and ran Whittall House until 2007, when he was appointed as an Assistant Head. No stranger to the Brentwood campus, Mr. Felix spent his senior secondary years as a member of Privett House. An enthusiastic member of the Brentwood rugby, basketball and rowing teams as a student, his fondest memory was that, under Jim Burrows' sage tutelage, he passed senior math. During his undergraduate years and since graduating from the University of Washington, Mr. Felix has travelled extensively, usually with sports teams as an athlete or a coach. While doing so, he has visited dozens of boarding schools around the world, gleaning wonderful insight into the power of a boarding school education. Mr. Felix is a highly experienced and dedicated facilitator in helping to provide outstanding boarding school experiences for students. Mr. Felix also has extensive experience in boarding school administration, as a history teacher and as a rugby and basketball coach. He is extremely proud of his family, from whom he derives his strength and inspiration.
B.A. (Bishop's), Rugby, Strength and Conditioning Coach
Born and raised in Montreal, Shane Thompson grew up in a very athletic family, developing an early and incurable passion for sports. Focusing on university-level basketball, football, and rugby, he attended Bishop’s University and completed a B.A. in Geography and Economics in between practices. Shortly afterwards, he moved to Victoria, played rugby for the Canadian national team, and toured the world several times over. In 2005, Shane transitioned into coaching for Rugby Canada and completed his Masters in Education at the University of Victoria. When not coaching rugby and strength conditioning at Brentwood, Shane works as a professional coach and manager for the BC Rugby Elite Youth 7s program and also coaches the Canada Maple Leafs 7s team. His goal is to strengthen Brentwood’s rugby program and cultivate elite players who may one day realize the Olympic dream. Shane is an outdoor aficionado, a keen traveler, and a surprisingly talented hip hop and swing dancer.
B.Sc. (University of Durham, U.K.)
Dewi Griffiths grew up in Abergwyngregyn, a small village in the heart of Snowdonia that served as the principal residence of the Welsh Princes of old. It is little wonder that he maintains a strong pride in his ancestral heritage and sprinkles the school year with Welsh influences. His early education was at Friars School, established during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in 1557. It was here that he was first introduced to computers and rugby. He continued to study these at Durham University, where he gained a B.Sc., majoring in applied physics, electronics, and computing - and rugby. Working for Ferranti Computer Systems and then Smiths Industries, he went on rugby tour to Canada, and decided to relocate to Victoria, B.C. There, he joined a small software company manufacturing Geographic Information Systems and then became a senior systems specialist for the Ministry of the Attorney General. In 1998, Mr. Griffiths moved to Brentwood to coach, teach IT, and run the computer network. He lives in Mill Bay with his wife, Bonnie, and three children. When not glaring at a computer screen, he likes to fish, play rugby, hike, read, play the bass guitar for the staff band, and organize social events. He is uniquely able to correctly pronounce the placename, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.