New-look Kickers pound Piggies in men’s rugby action at Cumberland

“Who are all these new guys?” asked a spectator at the AFC Construction Comox Valley Kickers men's Div. 3 rugby match Sunday at Village Park

TRY-SCORING MACHING Steve Hextall of the Kickers rumbles in for a score against Cowichan.

TRY-SCORING MACHING Steve Hextall of the Kickers rumbles in for a score against Cowichan.

Ian Kennedy

Record Contributor

“Who are all these new guys?” asked a spectator at the AFC Construction Comox Valley Kickers men’s Div. 3 rugby match Sunday at Village Park, Cumberland.

Well might he ask. Over the last few weeks an influx of new players, particularly from Campbell River, has seen the Kickers with a surplus of players standing on the sidelines looking to get on the field. “It’s a bit of a problem,” says Kickers’ coach Aaron L’Arrive. “A lot of these new guys play in the back-row and in the centres and I have a hard time making sure everyone gets a game.”

One of the new players, Damian Kodaba, showed a great deal of pace and grit Sunday as he scored one of the Kickers’ seven tries in a 44-0 romp over the lacklustre Cowichan Piggies, a mere shadow of the once powerful side that used to be the Kickers’ nemesis.

“I usually play scrum-half, which I did for awhile today, but they put me on the wing as well, and I had a great time. I was lucky enough to score a try and get a few good runs,” offered the former Carihi player. “There isn’t a men’s team in Campbell River anymore and some of us decided to drive down and attend a Kickers’ practice and test the waters. We really liked what we saw and now a bunch of us carpool down every week. We’re really enjoying it and we’re having a lot of fun.”

The Kickers began well, spinning the ball through the backs until another newcomer centre, John Vinnedge, a former Vancouver Rowing Club player, went in for the opening score just two minutes after the opening whistle. Eli Cummins converted to make it 7-0.

Tries by wing Tim Begg (back from a sabbatical) for his first of the season; centre Steve Hextall with two (his 13th and 14th of the year), and another by centre Cummins left the half-time score at 27-0 and demonstrated the complete dominance of the Kickers’ back-line. Kodaba scored his to open the second half followed by others from Mike Magee and Leigh Burley, which Cummins converted, to create the final 44-0 tally.

“It was a great way to open the second-half campaign,” offered Kicker captain Cummins. “We were somewhat rusty but we started the first half strongly and then got a bit sloppy toward the end of the game. Konrad Nikkle controlled the game well for us at #10 and Jeremy Grootendorst played really well in the pack, taking nearly every line-out ball and was quick to the break-down as well. Brad Hannah played his usual strong game when he came on. Yes, Steve Hextall did score two tries, but he doesn’t deserve any credit. That’s what we’ve grown to expect of him. He’s just a try-scoring machine.”

The Kickers men will take the ferry across the strait this Sunday, Feb. 5 to play Powell River.


SIDELINES The Kickers are pleased to announce that AFC Construction has signed on to sponsor the men’s team for the next two-and-a-half years … AFC Construction is an award-winning company based in the Comox Valley specializing in commercial, multi-family residential and custom residential construction and has had a number of its employees involved in the club in recent years … the Kickers are also pleased to have Investors Group as one of its major sponsors … the Courtenay-based investment firm lends its support to the development of women’s, junior and mini rugby at the club … all those interested in playing rugby are invited to attend training sessions on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at the club’s Fallen Alders facility on the Royston/Cumberland Road … junior players take to the field at 5:30 p.m. and the men and women at 6:30 p.m. ..