The Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers struck bronze at the recent provincial high school rugby championships.
Head coach Jamie Overgaard said it was a nice way to cap off a tough season of rugby.
“Restarting all of the Tweedsmuir athletic programs was a huge challenge for all coaches this year,” Overgaard said. “Two years off of anything is a long time and it was especially difficult to recover from in rugby.”
He said several of the players on the team hadn’t played since they were in Grade 8 and the rest were rugby newbies.
“Contact sports take a great deal of preparation and we had to get these guys up to speed very quickly,” he added. “It was a constant challenge, but one the boys never backed away from.”
Overgaard said his team was very dedicated this year, taking practices and games very seriously. He said his team played hard every game and stood toe-to-toe with the best AAA Tier I teams in the province including: Saint Georges, Oak Bay, and Abbotsford Secondary. Each of those teams finished in the top five in the province.
“We paid our dues, tested ourselves, and learned along the way,” he said. “We caught the injury bug just prior to the provincial high school championships, but qualified as South Fraser AAA No. 2 (seed).
Overgaard said because of the injuries, he called up some junior players for the championships and the kids performed well. They learned the senior team’s patterns and systems quickly and were able to be plugged into tournament games where needed without missing a beat.
“We dropped a very tight game to eventual champions Yale,” Overgaard explained. “The score appears a little one-sided, but the game was very tight with a few solo breaks from Yale super-stars.”
In the bronze match, Tweedy faced rival Terry Fox and won the game 21-15.
“We (hadn’t) scored a penalty goal all season, but hit two in this game!” exclaimed Overgaard. “The game was very fast, very physical.”
Overgaard said kicker Jordan Hutchings slotted those two penalty goals (six points), making the difference in the game.
He added that Nathan Hamilton, who plays 8-Man, had an outstanding championship tournament and was named to the “Commissioner’s XV”—an all-star team named from the best players in the tournament.
“I am very proud of this squad for sticking together and staying so positive during a difficult season,” added Overgaard. “They faced a great deal of adversity, and even some blatant disrespect from certain teams they faced this year, but they never hung their heads.”
He said despite some early-season adversity and the late-season injury bug, his team was always working hard to get better on the field.
“They always wanted to give it all they had,” he said. “I am thrilled that their final game allowed them to win a bronze medal.”
This year marked the first time both the Tweedy senior girls and senior boys played in the provincials together at the same time and in the same location. The senior girls placed seventh.