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Axemen Rugby Club Division 2 finish first in regular season

Division 2 will be headed to the playoffs, while Division 3 also recorded a victory; the rugby youth jamboree was also revived for the first year since COVID cancellations this weekend.

The Axemen Rugby Club's Division 2 team finished the regular season at the top of their class on Saturday at Howe Sound Secondary field.

That team had been leading the division, and had cemented their standing in the regular-season league with a score of 59-12 win over a strong SFU team who had previously not lost by more than 11, said head coach Keith Reeves.

Reeves told The Squamish Chief that winger Pete Foley put on an exceptional performance, scoring a hat-trick of tries, plus eight out of eight conversions.

"It's been an outstanding weekend for the Axemen club," the coach said immediately after the games.

Foley was followed by Blake Mahovic, Neil Irwin, Ian Skuse, and Tristan Negro, Reeves said.

The Division 2 team now has a place in the playoffs, and their next game will be an at-home semi-final on April 30.

However, while the team is now bound for playoff glory, success didn't necessarily come easy this season.

For a while, players were getting hurt.

"We've had a lot of injuries. I think it's due to the fact that most of the guys missed two years playing because of COVID. So there's been a lot of impact injuries as well as usual strains," said Reeves.

"We're not the only club that suffered that way. So it's kind of levelled things out."

He also added that the team appears to have found its rhythm with a certain style of play.

"We attack every turnover," said Reeves. "I'd say most of our tries come from at least 50 metres out. So to develop that scale of plan, they'll understand that that's the structures that we work to. That's been particularly pleasing for me as a coach. And our defence is really strong as well."

Reeves said the team's success is a continuation of the direction that the Axemen had already been heading in.

The Division 2 team was leading during the last regular season, which was cancelled midway because of COVID-19.

This year, the rugby team was able to finish the job.

On top of that, many of the players are now either permanent residents or Canadian citizens.

"It's been a successful year, but it's also been an important year in terms of building sustainability in the club," Reeves said.

Previously, on April 2, the Axemen's team in Division 2 won against Scribes RFC, with a 49-12 final score.

The Division 3 team also put in a victory for the books on Saturday at Howe Sound field.

They took out the Brit-Lions with a winning score of 48-38, Reeves said.

Tristan Negro put on the strongest performance, with two tries, the coach said.

Others also put in outstanding efforts as well.

Reeves noted junior Tom Rasmussen scored one and set one try for Connor Gascoigne.

Jack Couzens, Steve List, Rapha Tremblay and Dave Kane also scored tries. Manager Cian Starogardzki bagged 4 conversions.

The grown-ups were not the only players having fun this past weekend. The following day at Don Ross Middle School field, over 300 kids between the ages five through 14 attended the club's annual jamboree.

"So yeah, this is the first jamboree that we've held since 2019, which was the last one due to COVID. We haven't been able to run one for a couple of seasons," said James Butterworth of the Axemen. "But it's usually a very well attended event. And it's great to come down and just watch and see what's happening."

There was a barbecue, refreshments and a fundraising raffle, among other things.

"Everyone seems to have fun at these jamborees. And it's a good way for families to come down and actually see what it's about," he said.

Butterworth also said that it is an event that brings the community together. Local companies help and out donate supplies while volunteers give their time.

He expressed gratitude for all of them.