For the third year in a row, the Cowichan Piggies will carry the Vancouver Island title into the U16 boys rugby provincial championship game.
The Piggies beat Castaway Wanderers last Sunday in the Island final, also for the third straight year, this time by a convincing score of 62-12. According to Darren Sage, who coaches the Cowichan team along with Doug Branchflower, CW has been a stronger opponent than the numbers might suggest.
“The couple of times we’ve played them this year, the scores have been one-sided, but they’ve been very competitive games,” Sage said. “They play certain areas of the game really well and cause us trouble, but we’ve come out on top every time.”
Cowichan has just one loss on their record this season, and that only came because they conceded the result when they couldn’t field enough players. The team has gotten even better in recent matches.
“The boys, the last couple of weeks, have clicked,” Sage said. “They’ve finally started playing the systems we’ve been teaching them in training. As a coach, it’s rewarding to see them take what we’ve been teaching them and play it on the field. It’s been awesome to watch the last couple of weeks.”
Torren Kaiser and Graeme Morris stood out in the backs on Sunday, as they have done for Cowichan all season.
“They both had great seasons, and they’re finishing well for us,” Sage commented. “They probably scored the majority of our points this year, and they probably scored the majority of points for us in the Island final.”
Aidan Kirkham leads the Piggies’ forward pack.
“He’s the heart and soul of the team,” Sage said. “He’s willing to do the dirty work so we can score points. He’s definitely in there, turning the ball over and making sure we can play our game.”
Cowichan will face Capilano for the provincial title in Vancouver this Sunday. About half the team is back from the squad that lost the B.C. final to the UBC Old Boys Ravens last year, and they’re hoping for a different result this time around.
“There are a lot of new faces,” Sage said. “But enough of them remember the loss last year and want to make good on it.”
Having played only Island teams to this point, the Piggies have yet to face Capilano, but they’re going to be prepared for a tough final.
“Capilano has had a real surge at the end of the season,” Sage said. “They’re playing really well. It’s going to be a very physical, very competitive kind of game.”
Possession will be key if Cowichan wants to succeed on Sunday.
“The more time we have the ball in our hands, the less time they have to score,” Sage noted. “We need to limit our mistakes and capitalize on the mistakes they make.”
The Cowichan U18 boys were looking for a second straight Island title and a chance to repeat as provincial champs when they faced Castaways last Sunday, but ended up on the wrong side of a 45-22 score.