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Strong start to spring rugby season for Comox Valley

From the hospital bed to the rugby pitch: The story of James Dubois

Kickers player James Dubois has defied all odds. In 2020, he was diagnosed with cancer in his spleen which he subsequently had removed. A spleen usually weighs less than a pound, but his was so enlarged that it weighed about seven pounds when removed through surgery.

Shortly thereafter, Dubois found out the cancer was aggressive and was attacking other organs, namely his kidneys and his heart. The latter is made of connective tissue and muscle cells that do not turn over very fast, which is why heart cancer is rare with an incidence rate of 0.002 per cent.

Dubois underwent several rounds of chemotherapy. His body reacted well to the treatment, and he was in remission.

A year ago, he was again in a hospital bed at Royal Jubilee in Victoria, now in a cancer coma with a brain tumour that was attempting to spread. He was on death’s doorstep.

With a strong will, Dubois began chemotherapy again and eventually had a stem cell transplant in June 2022.

On Saturday, Jan. 28, everyone at Cumberland Village Park witnessed something special. James, 53, stepped onto the pitch and played his first rugby game after beating cancer twice. Lo and behold, as he wore the black and maroon for the Comox Valley Kickers, he played against Richmond RFC, the club from his hometown where he had played 20 years.

It was a beautiful day for rugby and the camaraderie shown from both teams was a sight to be seen.

Good start to season

The 2022/23 club rugby season started Jan. 28 at Cumberland Village Park where both Comox Valley Kickers teams hosted Richmond RFC.

As the women’s team had participated in regional play on the Island in the fall, this was the start of the B.C.-wide regular season. The return to play showcased a mix of veteran players and new recruits, and resulted in a dominating 50-12 win over Richmond. Karli MacFarlane, Tyra Schaad and Sienna Stigant each scored two tries, while Jenn Lund and Chloe Speed each scored one. Converts were added by Stigant (two), Christina Green-Speck (two) and Jess Nikkel.

“We came out strong and put Richmond under pressure right from the start,” said coach JP Lussier. “Our defence was sound, and we made our tackles. We were able to string together plays on offence with support and that made a big difference.”

“This is a good start to our season, but we gave up a lot of penalties,” added co-captain Natalie Nguyen. “There is definite room for improvement. We have a solid foundation to work with and will continue to build on it as the season progresses.”

The spring rugby season marks the continuation of the fall rugby season with the fourth-ranked Kickers men’s team upsetting the top ranked Richmond RFC in a landslide victory, 61-21. Brandon Hudson scored three tries, Nate Bice had two, and Steve Tien, Jimmy Robertson, Joe Barker and Sebastian Lambert each scored one for the Kickers. Kyle Hall added eight converts.

“I’ve been putting off playing with the lads and I’m glad that they convinced me to do it. It was an absolute blast and the team showed excellent skill across all phases of the game,” said inside centre Jimmy Robertson.

Saturday, Feb. 4 in Cumberland, the men beat the Nanaimo Hornets 48-5. Playing conditions were difficult due to weather. The rain and wind resulted in a tighter field of play, with more tackles and simpler set plays. However, the game plan didn’t change. Bice scored a pair of tries, while Hudson, JB Nikkel, Barker, Steve Hextall, Robertson and Joe Goldes each scored one. Hall and Nikkel added two conversions each.

“I’ve very proud of the heart the men showed today,” team captain Hudson said. “Nanaimo really challenged us in the first half and we rose to the occasion. In the second half, we possessed the ball for a good majority of it which resulted in being able to put more points up on the board. We have been getting more consistent players out which has helped us gel as a team. Excited for the season ahead.”

Next game day is Saturday, Feb. 11. The men play against the Scribes at Rupert Park in Vancouver and the women host Langley RFC.

Both teams are continually recruiting players. No experience necessary. Practices are held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30-8 p.m. at Cumberland Village Park. Everyone welcome. For more information, visit