Brentwood Takes Bronze at BC 7s
It’s officially rugby season across BC; all of Brentwood’s teams are gearing up, trying to put the pieces together to make a deep Provincials run. However, due to a change in the schedule, the Brentwood 1st XV had the BC High School Boys Provincial Sevens Championship in the middle of their season, temporarily putting their 15s work to a halt. After just two practices, Brentwood sent 14 boys to St. George’s in Vancouver to compete at the weekend tournament, leaving early Saturday morning. The team arrived at their venue an hour and a half before their first game, giving them ample time to mentally and physically warm up.
In their first contest, Brentwood faced West Van. Due to the brevity of the games, Coaches Thompson & Flynn emphasized the importance of the starters making an immediate impact. The team sputtered out of the gates, allowing a try on the very first play of the game. They regrouped to score just moments later, and again a minute before the half. All was looking good until a West Van player broke through Brentwood’s defense for a try to end the half. By converting on their kick, West Van was up 12-10 at the half. Following a pep talk from the coaches and some substitutions, Brentwood came out of the break aggressively, scoring often through good ball movement and won the game 32-12, shutting out their opponents in the second half. While the coaches applauded the team’s comeback win, they noted we had to get out of the 15s mentality and embrace using the width and passing the ball early and often.
In their next game, Brentwood played G.P. Vanier. Adhering to our coaches’ advice, we moved the ball much better, scoring several tries. On defense, the team made tackles and put pressure on their opponents, refusing to give up ground and forcing turnovers. At the game’s conclusion, Brentwood was up 55-0. The coaches were very pleased to watch the team improve from the previous game.
In the final game of the day, Brentwood was matched up against the host St. George’s Saints. During the warmup, the team knew this was an opportunity to compete with some of the best the province had to offer. They did not show it at the start - we allowed a St. George’s try. The team quickly shook off their mistake, scoring just minutes later to tie the game. The two teams were evenly matched for the remainder of the first half, neither team able to capitalize until the final minute. A Saints player broke Brentwood’s defense on the wing, and Casper P, Whittall ‘18, was in hot pursuit of him. Unfortunately, Casper landed awkwardly during a tackle attempt, and lay on the ground in pain. The Saints took advantage of Brentwood’s concern for their teammate, scoring on the final play of the half. During halftime, Casper was attended to by the Saints’ athletic trainer, taking care of Casper until the ambulance arrived. In a halftime huddle, Brentwood dedicated their performance to their injured teammate. The second half started promising, competing well with the Saints. A turnover, however, quickly led to a Saints try, putting them up 17-7. Brentwood could have hung their heads, but they battled back to score a try, putting them within three points. The team was energized, and aimed to steal a kickoff reception to win the game. Unfortunately, the Saints caught the ball and moved it well across the field, leading to a try to end the game 24-14. Though his team lost, Coach Thompson was extremely proud of how the team played, especially with one of their key players going down to injury.
Brentwood finished Day 1 with a 2-1 record, second in their pool and in a good position for the following day. Later in the day, the team found out that Casper had dislocated his left elbow, but it had since been put back in place and he would heal.
The team’s first game on Day 2 was against Island rivals St. Michael’s Blue Jags. Coach Thompson stated that it was important for the team to get prepared quickly, as upsets often happen during the morning quarter-finals. The team took this warning to heart, coming out of the gates strong. Their defensive pressure was excellent, not giving SMUS an inch, leading to their mistakes. Brentwood was able to capitalize and turn SMUS miscues into tries. The final score was 36-0, marking it the second time Brentwood had shut-out an opponent. The team’s victory put them in the semifinals.
In the semifinals, the team faced another local rival in the Shawnigan Lake Stags. Again, the coaches implored the team to challenge their opponents and not back down just because of the colour of their jersey. However, we did not put forth our best effort. We had good moments, but could never string together consecutive ones, often ending multiple positive phases with a turnover that led to a Shawnigan try. The effort was there, but the execution was lacking. This time it was Brentwood that was shut out, losing 42-0. Following the game, Coach Thompson emphasized it was important for the team to have a short term memory and get ready for the Bronze Medal Game.
For third place, Brentwood was matched up against the Oak Bay Bays who had just lost a heartbreaking semi-final on the last play of the game. The game was full of action, with both teams going hard, desperate not to lose another game. Oak Bay drew first blood, but Brentwood punched back, scoring two tries within a minute. A Brentwood turnover led to an Oak Bay try to end the first half, where the game was tied. In the huddle, the coaches implored their team to leave it all out on the pitch in the final seven minutes. Brentwood responded, quickly scoring a try early in the half. Again, the Bays would not go quietly into that good night – well, afternoon – turning around to score a try of their own. It appeared that the Bays had all the momentum, as they had the ball on the final play of the game. One of their players was sprinting down the wing to score a try to win the game. Out of nowhere, Mason S, Privett ‘18, appeared, tackling the player out of bounds, ending regulation and sending the game into overtime. While the team cheered for Mason’s heroics, we knew we still had a job to do. It was sudden death; whichever team scored first went away with a bronze medal. While Oak Bay started the extra period with the ball, Brentwood’s defense came up flat, putting pressure on their opponents and forcing a knock-on. Following a Brentwood scrum, the team moved the ball to the wing, where Matt MP, Rogers ‘19, ultimately scored the game-winning try. Brentwood respectfully shook hands with the Bays, who suffered their second straight heartbreaking loss, before taking to the sidelines to celebrate. The team was presented with their bronze medals and quickly hit the road to catch the ferry back to school.
Both Coach Thompson and Coach Flynn were extremely proud of not only the result, but the manner in which the boys performed and carried themselves. While it was not 15s, they believed that the team’s attitude in the 7s tournament would aid their 15s title run. With numerous important games rapidly approaching, the team will need to be at the its best to experience success. Wish us luck and see you on the pitch!
Olamide O, Privett ‘18