Near Miracle at Mulgrave
Four games, fifty-six minutes and one trophy all on the line. The morning started early with a five-thirty alarm to prepare the team for a long and tough day of fighting for the Mulgrave Rugby Sevens Trophy. After a team breakfast at the cafeteria and a few inspirational words along the lines of “bring me back somethin’ shiny boys,” from our coach, Mr. Smith, the team packed up and got ready for the three hour trip to Vancouver. As we loaded the bus still half asleep, Mr. Branchflower read aloud our positions: “Ryangwon: wing, Tanner: prop, Niko: flyhalf, Cannon: hooker, Ewan: centre, Tareq: centre, Dale: scrumhalf, Jacob: wing, Jahmaal: prop, Alec: hooker, Josh: prop, and Pierce and Nic, you’ll play everything.” Once we all found our seats, the 5AM wake up had us all asleep within minutes, only to be abruptly awoken by the sound of the ferry’s screaming horn.
By nine o’clock, we had reached our destination at the Horseshoe Bay terminal and were slowly gaining more and more energy (with the help of a few packs of Oreos) and we were excited to give it our all in the tournament. The bus ride to Mulgrave from the terminal was short and sweet, with strategic conversations erupting in every seat from the buzzing teenagers. We walked off the bus at ten o’clock and headed to our changeroom to put on our gear and prepare for our first game at eleven-twenty versus Burnaby Mountain. The first seven minutes of the game determined how the rest of the tournament would go. Tareq, with his quick hands and agile feet, scored the first two tries of the day, putting us ahead 12-0 with the help of some accurate conversion kicks from Cannon. The second half was my time to shine, and might I say, seven minutes might not seem like a long time, but with a full size rugby field and only seven men on each team, the running required in order to make tackles, score trys or gain distance down the field is much more than a normal game of 15’s rugby. Ewan, Cannon and I were also able to pick up a few more trys for our team, leaving our first game at a 36-0 stomp.
Our second game was a much tougher game versus Prince of Wales. Their players were bigger, their wingers were faster, but Brentwood wanted the win, especially a few memorable tacklers, Tareq, Ewan, Pierce and Cannon. Watching them take down opponents twice their size inspired our entire team to step their game up and close out our second game 10-0. Two games down and no trys scored against Brentwood so far.
Our semi-finals were where Brentwood realized that we had a good chance of winning this tournament. Although the rain was pouring, the weather was freezing and a few of our players (Ryangwon) were almost turning blue from the cold; we kept our eyes on the prize. The game started off rough after a brutal tackle took me out of the game, but our team was able to make an incredible comeback and put the pressure onto the skilled Aberdeen team. Brentwood, with some wonderful teamwork and courageous tackles, was able to prevent Aberdeen from scoring a single try against us, allowing us to finish our game 27-0 and qualify us for the finals versus the tough Prince of Wales team (again.)
This was it. The final game to determine whether Brentwood would remain victorious or be forced to travel home as the second place team. Cannon, our 7’s team Captain, was not about to let that happen. He gathered the boys together for a quick warm up in the rain, and then brought us all together in a circle. “Do you boys want to win?” he exclaimed. A few boys replied with a semi-enthusiastic “Yeah,” so Channon asked again, louder this time: “Do you boys want to win?!” The entire team erupted in a roar, “YEAH!” The hype was growing. “This team is hard, and their forwards are strong, but we can do this. Make good tackles, move the ball and let’s show Wales who they’re up against!” Brentwood was ready to fight.
We all listened to a few words from our coaches, then gave a manly hug to one another, slapping our teammates on the back and jumping around like a bunch of baboons; you could feel the adrenaline in the air. The teams made their way onto the field, the whistle blew, and the competition for first place began. Niko set himself up in the middle of the field, dropped the ball for kickoff and sent it flying into enemy territory. Our team sprinted forward with a burst of energy, and Pierce made a beautiful tackle on the wing. The two teams rucked for the ball but Wales size gave them an advantage, so they grabbed the ball and ran down the field again. However, the opponent did not get very far before Jacob was able to put an arm on him and turn a sharp corner, forcing Wales out of bounds and giving us the ball. Cannon set up for the throw in. “Hands!” he called, which is a play we use when we want to spin the ball down from person to person until it reaches the opposite side of the field. The opposing team realized what we were about to do, and shifted their team to the left in preparation for Cannon’s pass. Thankfully, Cannon noticed the shift and took the ball to the inside wing, catching Wales off guard. Cannon was soon tackled by a swift enemy winger, and the ball was offloaded to Jacob. Wales chased after, but it was no use. At the speed of light, “Usain-Jacob” had scored his first try of the tournament and also the first try on the game, putting us up 7-0. The game continued with a few more tries from Brentwood here and there, but the pressure was on.
Niko and I watched from the sidelines as Wales got the ball, ran it forward, got tackled and repeated the pattern down the field, getting closer and closer to our try line each time. Niko leaned over to me and Mr Branchflower, and without thinking, spoke the forbidden words: “We haven’t been scored on yet, what if Brentwood got a tournament shut out!”
Shut out… the words echoed in my mind. Of course, someone had to jinx it. Next thing you know, Wales had a miracle break through our tight defence on the wing, landing the ball in our try zone only two minutes before the end of the game. The final two minutes continued, and although we did not end up with a shut out, Brentwood won the finals 25-7!
Everyone from Brentwood on the sidelines sprinted onto the field, jumped into each other and congratulated one another. After shaking hands with the Prince of Wales team, we happily accepted our trophy and awards. Congratulations to Cannon for winning the Tournament MVP award as well!
Our experience at the Mulgrave was very positive. We were able to test our skills, and learn things about ourselves that we need to work on. Coming together as a team and trusting one another on the field played a big role in our victory, and I am excited for what the future holds for Brentwood’s junior rugby-sevens.
A big thank you to Mr Branchflower and Mr Reynolds for coming to support us and giving the team a great opportunity to play some intense rugby. Mulgrave trophy, we’ll be back for you again next year!
Dale F, Whittall ‘21