Report by Mike Magee. Photo by Lena-Marie Pawluk.
On Sunday in Saanich under blue skies, for the first time since 2007, the Comox Valley Kickers Sr. Men’s team played their first match back in the VIRU 1st Division.
A rough fall schedule, full of cancellations and defaults by opponents, saw the eager to play Kickers take to the field to face the Velox Academy.
It took a while after the opening whistle for the Comox boys to shake the rust and webs, in the process allowing the young Velox side to score first. It was through an impressive attack engineered by Velox Flyhalf Chris Brussow and his brother, Outside Center Dirk Brussow. A simple yet effective reverse (with a little flair) saw the speedy outside center run the ball 70+ yards and go in for a 7-0 lead.
The Kickers would answer back shortly thereafter via a flanker hidden in the backline. Blindside Flanker Vince Bennett would score between the posts and howl with excitement as he was back on the scoring sheet and put the Kickers up on the problematic score board.
Back and forth play throughout the first half would also see Outside Center Andrew Hextall log one near the posts after another Velox try, to see the teams go into halftime with a score of 14-12 in favour of the host Valhallians.
The spectators would starting pouring in advance of the main event. They would be treated to a competitive 2nd half.
A slow start by the Kickers in the 2nd half would allow Velox to score off the opening kickoff, rendering coaches Frank Blaucomb and Aaron L’Arrivee speechless.
Most people are familiar with the saying “when it rains it pours”, and this was the case over the next 15 minutes as Velox found holes to attack in the Kickers defence, and they poured on the tries. At one point Velox was up 38-12 to the coach’s dismay.
After a quick chat during an injury break in play, the Kickers turned up the intensity and began to attack once again.
First it was scrumhalf Mike Magee going against the grain of play, picking the ball up off the back of a ruck, and going in untouched in the far corner. Next it would be 8 Man Ben Trevena, picking the ball up off the back of scrum and power over the line bringing the Kickers one step closer.
With the points gap narrowing and Velox feeling the pressure they would kick the ball down field to fullback Gregory Merchant, who would scamper back though many defenders before offloading to rookie flanker Brandon Hudson who would finish off the counter attack for the Kickers last try on the day between the posts.
Flyhalf Konrad Nikkel would convert 3 of the Kickers 5 tries but the Kickers would drop the season opener on the road to a final score of 38-31 to the Velox Academy. The team held their chins high as they felt they could improve on their efforts and look forward to the rematch in Cumberland later in the season.
Next up for the Mens 1st Divison Kickers team is the Piggies from Cowichan at 1pm on Saturday in Village Park, Cumberland.
Game pics by Earl Belyea.
Sidelines: Previous bouts in the highly competitive 1st division, was proof the Kickers were not out of place when playing competitive rugby. Back in 2006 coming off a NVIRU 3rd Division Championship, the Kickers tested the waters with decent results proving they did belong with a 5th place finish in a league of 8 teams. The following year saw the Kickers once again finish the season strong enough to qualify for the playoffs before bowing out to eventual league Champions Velox Valhallians ‘A’.
The Kickers Rugby Club invites all those men and women interested in playing rugby to attend training sessions on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 6.30 p.m.at the club’s Fallen Alders facility on the Royston/Cumberland Road. For more info, visit our website at http://kickersrugby.ca.
The club gratefully acknowledges our team sponsors: AFC Construction, Bayview Chiropractic, Cummins Fencing, Green Earth Carpet Cleaning, Investors Group and Wedler Engineering; along with our club sponsors Continual Palingenesis – Social Media Solutions and Speed Pro Signs Courtenay. Without this support rugby would not continue to flourish in the Comox Valley.