Comox Valley rugby talent helps UBC T-Birds win Wightman Boot

Three Comox Valley rugby players helped the UBC Thunderbirds defeat the UVic Vikings 37-30 and win the school’s third straight Wightman Boot on Jan. 16 in Vancouver.

Foster Dewitt (Courtenay), Callum Passingham (Black Creek) and Nakai Penny (a Valley newcomer from Penticton) were on the T-Birds’ roster when UBC opened the 2016 Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League season in style.

Victoria’s 30 points were the most UBC had conceded all season in a match that featured plenty of high-tempo rugby on a slick Ken Woods Field artificial turf field in Vancouver.

The seven-point margin of victory was also the closest UBC is the reigning Rounsefell Cup champions and are now 9-0 against B.C. competition during the 2015-16 school year.

More high-calibre rugby awaits the local trio as Penny along with G.P. Vanier alumni Passingham, Dewitt and Trevor Caton (Vancouver Rowing Club) are off to the Canada U20 selection camp that goes Jan. 22-30 at Shawnigan Lake School.

From the 39 players at the camp, 26 will be chosen to represent Canada at its World Trophy qualifier against the USA on Feb. 13 in Austin, Texas.

If Canada beats the USA they will earn a trip to Harare, Zimbabwe in April for the 2016 World Rugby U20 Trophy. Plus, for the top players, the Americas Rugby Championship for five weeks in February/March is a possibility.

Canada has competed at six World Rugby Under 20 Trophy tournaments, finishing second in both 2013 (45-23 loss to Italy in Chile) and 2015 (49-24 loss to Georgia in Portugal).

They also have two sixth-place finishes (2010, 2012), one fifth-place finish (2011) and a seventh-place finish (2014) to their credit.

T-Birds Flying High

The reigning B.C. Premier League champion T-Birds wrapped up a perfect (8-0-0) first half of their season on Dec. 5 by winning the Mainland Cup, defeating Burnaby Lake 20-0.

The Thunderbirds also hold the National Rugby News Challenge Cup as the top club team in North America. They have defeated the #1 ranked USA club team, Seattle, twice.

Last September, Dewitt and Penny were with the T-Birds at the inaugural eight-team World University Rugby Cup at Oxford in England, where UBC finished third.