Brentwood 1st XV Falls Just Short of Provincial Glory
This season has been an outstanding one for the Brentwood 1st XV; the team has improved greatly since first term, and in third term, has garnered convincing victories over St. Michaels, Rockridge, and Mark Isfeld. More so, the coaches have been further impressed by the team’s dedication to purposefully prepare, taking practices and pregame warmups very seriously. In early June, it was the team’s chance to put all their hard work together for three final games, with the hope of becoming BC Provincial Champions, redeeming themselves from last year’s second-place finish. Brentwood went into the AA Tournament as the 2nd-seed, improving on last year’s 3rd-seed entrance.
Early on Wednesday morning, Brentwood was matched up against the 7th-seed Rockridge Ravens. The last time the two teams met was for the second round of the Stadium Series, where Brentwood won the game in convincing fashion, 61-0. The coaches emphasized that this time, the Ravens would be out for vengeance, and Brentwood would have to play hard in order to win. We answered the call, putting pressure on ourr opponents, forcing turnovers. Brentwood was absolutely dominant in the scrums, winning each one in the first half. The physical forwards constantly broke the gain line, putting the Ravens on their back foot, opening the field up for the backs to finish. At halftime, Brentwood was up 50-0. Many subs were made during the break, but in the second half, there was little to no drop-off from the bench. The fresh legs were used to run around and through the defense, scoring a myriad of tries. Brentwood ultimately won the game 79-5, opening the tournament in dominant fashion. Following the game, we attended the tournament’s opening ceremonies before relaxing for the rest of the day.
On Thursday, Brentwood was set to faceoff against the 3rd-seed St. Michaels Blue Jags. A few hours before the game, the team did some aqua therapy in the hotel pool to activate their muscles. Brentwood and SMUS had squared off twice before, with Brentwood winning 58-0 in April and 43-24 at the Island Final. Once again, the team knew that they would have to work for this game, as SMUS was going to be physical and aggressive. The team’s predictions were true, as in the early going, SMUS played suffocating defense, making their tackles and preventing Brentwood from advancing down the field. As the game wore on, however, Brentwood’s constant attack wore down SMUS’s defense, leading to two consecutive tries. Brentwood had all of the momentum, yet they got away from their game-plan. They stopped doing the simple things that had helped them succeed. Though they were up at halftime 10-3, the team felt disappointed in the performance thus far. In the second half, Brentwood got back on track, doing all the little things to get them into a rhythm. The boys made shorter passes and took the ball at greater speeds, breaking the gain line and scoring tries. At the end of the game, not only did the team win 36-10, they felt much better about their performance in the second half. The rest of the day was pretty exciting, as, after dinner, the team went to the local cinema to watch a movie.
Friday was a rest day for the team, giving bodies and minds time to recuperate before the finals the next day. The team enjoyed a sleep in before heading over to the field for a brief team run to prepare for the following day. Afterwards, the boys did some prep in the hotel before heading over to Zach “Lambo” L’s, Ellis ‘19, farm in Langley. The Lamberts hosted the team for an outstanding lunch, as well as a tour of the grounds, where scenes of the latest “Predator” movie were filmed recently. After the get together, the team spent a bit of time at the hotel and grabbed a bite to eat before heading over to the stadium to watch a couple of rugby games. When they arrived at Rotary Stadium, the AAAA Final between the Oak Bay Bays and Shawnigan Lake Stags was taking place. To the surprise of many, Oak Bay was winning 12-0 and went into halftime with a 12-5 advantage. The second half featured some excellent, physical rugby, but in the end, Oak Bay pulled away, winning the AAAA Provincial Championship.The next game was the U23 BC Team vs the U20 Canada Team, the latter featuring Brentwood Alumni Will MP, Rogers ‘17. The first half was very exciting; BC kept breaking the line for tries yet Will MP kept Canada in the game with his superb kicking. It was a close game at the half, but unfortunately Brentwood had to get rest before their big day.
The team awoke Saturday morning energized, believing they would finish what they started and bring home the gold medal. Before heading to the field, they did another quick walkthrough to get their bodies and mind moving. The bus ride to stadium was quiet, as each player tried to get in the zone. They would be facing the 1-seeded Collingwood Cavaliers; the Cavaliers handed Brentwood their only loss of the season, beating us 34-5 in the first round of the Stadium Series. The team did their usual warm up, the intensity slowly building. When the whistle blew, the team was ready for battle. Unfortunately, Brentwood’s chances took a huge blow in the early going; standoff Matt MP, Rogers ‘19, sustained a leg injury in the early going, ruling him out of the game. Also, Collingwood scored two tries off Brentwood turnovers, putting them up 12-0. Instead of giving up, Brentwood came back to score two tries of their own, giving us a 14-12 advantage, despite losing wing Brendan G, Rogers ‘18, to injury as well. The two teams continued to alternate tries right until halftime, where Collingwood scored off a maul to give them a 24-19 advantage heading into the break.
In the huddle, the coaches congratulated the team for battling back from their early hole, but said that if they wanted to win, they would have to take better care of the ball and support every runner. Brentwood did that in the early goings of the second half, but similar to the first half, Collingwood intercepted a Brentwood pass, immediately scoring off the turnover. Collingwood used this momentum to rattle off two more tries, leaving Brentwood feeling defeated, down 43-19. After a penalty left Brentwood shorthanded with 15 minutes left, the game was all but over. However, rather than going out quietly, the team rallied, giving it their all in the final quarter of play. Playing 14-on-15, they scored two tries to bring the score to 43-31. The comeback was on as Brentwood owned all the momentum, but there just wasn’t enough time. As Collingwood players stormed the pitch to celebrate their victory, Brentwood walked off, with the same bitter taste of second place that they had last year.
Of course the team was disappointed in the game’s outcome. However, the coaches were very impressed with Brentwood’s season; the manner which the team carried themselves, trained, prepared for games, and ultimately battled back through all the adversity in the final to make it a closer game than the score depicts. Despite falling short, the 1st XV has much to be proud of this season. The sense of brotherhood between teammates was astonishing; teammates comforted each other following the loss, congratulated Jacob B, Ellis ‘19, for being named to the Commissioner’s XV, and joked around on the trip back to Brentwood.
There are numerous individuals who the team must thank for their wonderful season: all the fans who came out to every game (including making the voyage to the Final), the transportation staff (Derek in particular) for safely getting us to and from games, and of course, the coaches. Mr Thompson, Mr Flynn, Mr Langer, and Mr Cowie – Dave, not his more handsome father, Steve – have put in an incredible amount of work into molding these players into the team they have become. They got all of us to buy into the Brentwood culture of sticking to the fundamentals, and it truly paid dividends this year. Lastly, the seniors on this team must be thanked for their leadership, both on and off the pitch. They will surely be missed next year, but they have demonstrated to the 11th Graders how to lead, and hopefully get over the hump.
Thank you for another excellent year of rugby. See you all next year on the pitch!
Olamide Olatunbosun, Privett ‘18