Shawnigan Lake School players celebrate their return to the apex of B.C. high school boys rugby after beating St. George’s in the AAAA final on Friday. (Arden Gill/Shawnigan Lake School)

Shawnigan back on top of provincial rugby pile

Island high school powerhouse claims third AAAA title in four years

Shawnigan Lake School returned to the top of the heap in B.C. high school rugby with a 21-12 victory over St. George’s in the AAAA provincial final in Abbotsford on Friday.

Since the B.C. Secondary Schools Rugby Union added the AAAA division in 2016, Shawnigan has won three of four championships at the top level. The exception was last year, when Oak Bay defeated Shawnigan in the final.

This year, Shawnigan rallied in the second half to knock off St. George’s, the same team they defeated in the 2016 and 2017 AAAA finals.

It’s not the first time Shawnigan has come through with a strong second half.

“It’s just our culture, I guess,” said Ciaran Breen, Shawnigan’s captain and representative on the Commissioner’s XV. “We’re resilient. We’ve gone through adversity this year. With expectations and pressure. The thought of losing the banner two years in a row? That brings a lot of pressure.”

Coach Andrew Doyle wasn’t surprised to see his team come through in the second half against St. George’s.

“They have trust in their defence,” he said of the Shawnigan players. “We have powerful scorers, too. It’s the game plan. We grind teams down: wave after wave of physical defence, it wears teams down.”

The adversity the team has gone through, combined with memories from last year, made this year’s final that much more important.

“The emotions of playing together for the last time — especially for the Grade 12s — it meant a lot and helped focus us,” Breen said. “We had to leave everything on the pitch.”

The emotions broke through after the final whistle.

“A lot of the guys were crying,” Breen said. “It was just a sweet victory for me. It was everything I’ve been straining for. It was my main goal, above all the other rep teams I’ve been playing for.”

According Doyle, the difference in the final was Shawnigan’s play without the ball.

“Our defence was the secret,” he said. “We worked on it all season. It was lacking a little bit earlier in the season, but we kept working on it and it came back in a big way. Some of the Grade 12s also stepped up in a big way.”

Shawnigan knocked off the defending champions from Oak Bay 41-26 in the semifinals to set up the final against Oak Bay.

“The guys came out with a little more heart,” Breen said of the thriller against the Barbarians. “We’ve played Oak Bay three times already. Guys maybe were a little overconfident. We had to really battle to come back in that one.”

The team has worked since the start of the school year to make this championship happen, Doyle pointed out.

“Their hard work started in September,” he said. “That work on the off-season, the laps of the pond in the rain and snow and wind. They worked so hard for this.”

Breen was awarded a scholarship to play at UBC, but plans to defer and play a year of pro rugby in France first. A Cowichan Valley product from just down the road in Mill Bay, he was honoured to serve as Shawnigan’s captain for a year.

“Being captain made it really special,” he said. “I was able to steer the boat in the direction I thought was best. I’ll always have a deep connection. And the fact we pulled it together: it was a team effort, but just being able to wear that jersey as captain — it’s something I’ve dreamed of doing.”

 

Just Posted

Sidney Mayor issues apology over removal of Queen portrait

Cliff McNeil-Smith says he never intended to permanently remove or replace it with First Nations art

Editorial: If you do anything today, it’s get out and vote

Voting is vital to maintain what our country is and improve what it can be

Environment Canada issues gale warnings for most of Vancouver Island

Gale warnings in effect for most of Vancouver Island and west coast Mainland

Vancouver Island children’s author wins American award for The Moon Watched it All

Ladysmith’s Shelley Leedahl’s book took gold in the All Ages Picture Book category

Vancouver Island-penned musical sluggish and proud of it

VIU theatre department debuts instructor’s original new musical, ‘SlugFest’

Spotlight on B.C.: 12 races to watch on Election Day

Black Press Media presents a four-part series into how B.C. will affect the national outcome

BC Ferries crew member taken to hospital after getting struck by bow doors

Two sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay were cancelled

Greta Thunberg meets with First Nations chief in Fort McMurray

Thunberg has turned her protest against climate change into a global movement

Canucks hang on for 3-2 win over Rangers in New York

Vancouver scores three times in first period

More beef products recalled due to possible E. coli contamination

The food safety watchdog has been investigating possible E. coli 0157:H7

B.C. VIEWS: How to get the best deal on your ICBC car insurance

ICBC slowly being dragged into the 21st century

Pot legalization has gone ‘well’, but ‘yellow flags’ on vaping: task force chair

Canada legalized cannabis for non-medical use on Oct. 17, 2018,

Most Read