Step One of Three

Saturday, April 12th (Please note, original game times have changed)

 NVIRU 3rd Div. Men: Cowichan vs Velox at Piggie Park KO @ 11:30am

VIRU 1st Div. Men Cowichan Cup Semi-Final: Cowichan vs Port Alberni at Piggie Park KO @ 1:00pm

Province Wide 1st Division Women:  Bye

 (Story courtesy of BCRugby.com)

The Vancouver Island Rugby Union First Division playoffs get underway this weekend and top-seeded Cowichan Rugby Club is looking to cap off an impressive 2013-14 run with a Cowichan Cup.  Along with the trophy, the Island winner will clinch a berth in the province wide First Division semifinals and a chance to earn promotion into the Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League.

Cowichan’s First Division side has gone 16-2-1 overall this season including a 11-2-1 record in Cowichan Cup (triple-round competition) play as well as a 5-0 run in the inter-league Times Colonist Cup. The club’s third division side has also performed well going 11-0-1 with one more fixture to go in their regular season.

“To date CRFC has had a tremendous season on all fronts,” said Cowichan head coach Gord McGeachy. “For us our greatest success has to be the enormous growth in our numbers at the senior men’s level. This in turn has enabled us to field two very competitive teams throughout the year, allowing for some real competition within the club in terms of selection. This is a luxury we have not been afforded the past several years, as well as providing us with some much needed depth.”

A shift in the club’s overall culture has also seen Cowichan’s players performing to a consistently high level, according to McGeachy.

“After years of beating our heads against the wall trying to figure out a way to get back into the Premier League and the pressures that go along with it, we made a conscious effort to not make that one of our goals and really focus on the things that we could control,” McGeachy added. “The shift in focus has included a re-emphasis on cultivating our local home talent and staying connected with it, and a focus on enjoying ourselves as a family both on and off the field.  Really it was just a return to our core values that had made our club so successful in the past.”

The club has developed around a core group of players including Louis and Andrew Gudmunseth, Rob MacDonnell, Scott MacLeod, Dan James and David Cowie. Returning players who went through the juniors program have also made an impact with a list that includes Carlin and Danny Hamstra, Pat Fraser and Ian Manly. Recent juniors coming through the system graduating to the senior ranks include Gregor Grantham, Malcolm Sacht, Ty Jones and Owen Wood.

“Our improved back row has definitely led the charge for us this year,” McGeachy added. “Their defensive presence combined with their excellent work at the break down has been a very decisive factor for us allowing us to exert all kinds of pressure on our opponents.”

This weekend’s semifinals will see a division that has seen a lot of parity during the 2013-14 season.

“The VIRU First Division has improved by leaps and bounds this past year,” McGeachy added. “Both ourselves and Port Alberni have made tremendous gains, and really when any of the top four teams play each other, anything can happen.”

The first round of playoffs will see Cowichan hosting no.4 seed Port Alberni (8-6). The two sides have faced off on a number of occasions this season and all eyes will be on Port Alberni speedster and former Canada sevens standout Ty Shannon.

“We expect a massive confrontation this Saturday and know we will have to check all the boxes if we expect to come away with a win,” added McGeachy. “Port Alberni are a solid blue collar outfit that play a very direct style of rugby and also happen to have one of the best young BC talents in Ty Shannon. Defensively they are a hard-hitting, physical group that make you earn every inch of field available. Most importantly, they are a tight group who really play hard for each other and come to play the full 80 minutes every Saturday.”

Kick off for the Cowichan versus Port Alberni semifinal is set for 1:00pm at Cowichan Rugby Club. The no.2 Velox Valhallians (9-4-1, 48 pts) will host the no.3 (9-5, 44 pts) Nanaimo Hornets at Velox RFC in second semifinal. Kickoff for the match is scheduled for 1:00pm.  NOTE: Island champion to host Lower Mainland no.2 seed in provincial playoffs

The Island Cowichan Cup Final is currently scheduled for April 26th at the highest remaining seed’s home venue. 

Social Members

Our Social members to Date, 3 new since last week!

Bob Lewis since 2006 (in Memorium)

Tom Varty since 1969

Bruce Sampson since 2005

Doug Solloway since 1970

George Van Westarp since 1968

Barkley Logan since 1971

A. McGeachy since 1971

G. Dukelow since 1983

J. Carey since 1988

H. Gerwing since 2000

C. Evans since 1999

A. Hutchins since 1967

J. Hourihan since 2005

E. Hourihan since 2005

I. Ford since 1963

B. James since 2003

Again, your Social Membership is much appreciated @ $150 for 1 year. SUPPORT YOUR CLUB.

Executive Updates

  • Annual AGM will be coming up shortly in the second or third week in May.  Further notice will be sent.
    • President, Paul Grantham, after 4 years of service, will be stepping down. The club will need a new President for the upcoming year.  All members are to consider this position or to consider nominating a person for this position.  Please contact Past President, John James.
  • The online registration system finally came up with the cash owed to the club this past week.  So this has been sorted out.

Facilities Update

  • The 6 new field lights have been installed on 70′ masts along the parking lot side of the fields. This is a tremendous addition to the club and opens up about 2 acres of field space on dark evenings.  We now have one full field lit.  Thanks to Gudy, Andrew and everyone else who worked on this project.

This and That

  • All Three senior Club sides are in 1st Place in their respective leagues. Click here for BC Rugby standings
  • Great success at the club right now, particulary as we are doing it with all locals! This formulae works.  Congratulations must go to President Paul, Head Coach Gordie & Muck, Women’s Captains Sherry and coaches Coos and Taffy for their vision of creating the re-energized club atmosphere we are seeing today!
  • The club was featured on the BCRU Website this week and the strong theme of local rugby and it’s success was pushed (the above story)
  • The top two 1st Div. teams on the mainland are UBC (The top university side in North America this year…defeated U-Vic twice and won the NA Cup Championship vs U-Cal) and Seattle OPS (the number 1 ranked Club side in the United States by USA Rugby).  The Cowichan Cup (Island Champion) will host one of these two teams in the BCRU 1st Div final. Cowichan’s plan is always to take the next game as it is with the goal being the BCRU 1st Division Championship.

We take on the toughest team we have played this year weekend – the Port Alberni Black Sheep. We won by 3 points up in Port 3 weeks ago and they handed the Piggies their largest defeat this year back in November where the scoreline was 53-13.

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