The Ballenas Whalers senior and junior boys rugby sevens program hosted its only home session at the Ballenas field last Thursday.
It featured four other high schools — Nanaimo District Secondary, Wellington Secondary, Barsby Secondary and Alberni District Secondary in a series of matches.
This is only the fifth year for Whalers rugby but they competed well against teams that had been traditionally strong in the sport here on the Island.
Weather conditions were not ideal and played a Jekyll and Hyde role. For a brief moment, the sun was out motivating students and teachers to come out to watch the sevens action. Then it rained. Spectators and players scurried to find whatever overhead protection they could to keep dry.
The senior Whalers opened against the Alberni Armada and won, 12-7. Connor Knutson and Josh Rice each scored a try with Scotty Williams booting in one conversion.
In their second game, the senior Whalers bounced back after giving up a quick try early to square things at 5-5. Neither side was able to score after that and ended up sharing the points. Damon Thompson scored the only try for the Whalers.
The junior Whalers, on the other had, won their first game against Wellington, 10-5.
But in their next outing, played under two colourful arching rainbows that appeared majestically on the horizon, the Whalers wound up with a darker hue when they lost to the more seasoned John Barsby Bulldogs.
The Whalers’ only try came from a well-executed, kick-and-chase play, which is common in rugby. Chomolok was able to pick the pigskin off a Nanaimo scrum and had everyone chasing it down the goal line. Speedy Logan Farmer was able to reach it first to score the lone try for the Whalers.
Overall, coach Greg Lewis said, the Whalers played well considering they haven’t had much game exposure this season. They played their first tournament in Victoria where they got annihilated in their first game by Oak Bay but, Lewis said, following that the Whalers started playing better.
“It was a good learning experience in Victoria because I was able to play all the players,” said Lewis. “They’ve learned a lot.”
Lewis said the Whalers have players who are physically big and play football that dominated the scrum against the Nanaimo teams.
“I thought we were really physical on the breakdown. We did that well,” said Lewis, who added that he was happy to see the Whalers apply some of the set pieces they’ve been working on.
“It was really nice to see. A little bit of practice and it will work out. They’ve really improved and were committed in a lot of the plays.”
Meanwhile, the 15-a-side senior Whalers girls rugby team continue to improve. They won against Queen Margaret’s School more than a week ago and last Wednesday snagged another win when they beat the Alberni Armada 17-5 in Port Alberni.
Although they have been doing well, coach Olivia Hill said “the girls still have lots to learn.”
The Whalers girls will be at home to play two games against Cowichan Secondary and Carihi Secondary on Wednesday, April 18 at the Ballenas Field.
The kick off is at 3:15 p.m.