The blend of youth and experience continues to pay off for the Foothills Lions.
No more clearly was the dynamic made than during one of the Lions’ biggest wins of the season in the Calgary Rugby Union’s Third Division a 62-24 triumph over Lethbridge Saturday with two generations of Labrenz on the pitch.
For Brad Labrenz the opportunity to wear the Lions sweater again for the first time in five years with son Caleb making his debut with the senior Lions was simply too good to pass up.
“He’s going off to university in the fall,” Brad said. “And he kind of looked at me last week and said ‘this could be our last chance to ever play together dad.’
“I went ‘all right fine,’ and went and got a guest registration.”
Brad, a longtime member of the senior Lions, was used in a super sub capacity in the forwards in his return to the Lions den.
“Honestly, I would have liked to play a little more than I did,” he said. “They were using me as a utility player, but it felt really good.
“Once you get your first hit in it’s just rugby.”
Caleb, a 2019 graduate of Holy Trinity Academy, played the full contest in the backs as a centre.
Though the Labrenzs didn’t combine on any plays, as they lined up in different positions, Caleb caught a few glimpses of his old man holding his own against Lethbridge.
“I saw him hit some big boys out there,” Caleb said.
It was an introduction to the physicality of men’s rugby with Caleb making the move to Bishop’s University where he’ll study theatre and education and play for the Sherbooke, Quebec based school’s rugby team.
“It was a good start for my university season to get some improvement in there by fighting against some bigger boys,” Caleb said. “Big upgrade from high school season, the height and the physicality.”
Caleb rose through the ranks of the Lions Academy, getting his introduction to the sport at the age of 10 and through watching dad play for the senior Lions.
“I’ve been an academy coach with the Lions for many years and involved also in high school,” Brad said. “He just really grew into the sport. The sport has been so great for him, he wasn’t a very athletic kid when he started and he’s just excelled.
“He’s really persevered and I’m quite proud of him.”
In their return from a three-week layoff the Lions made up for lost time on Saturday.
High River’s Dr. Lee Rehak was at the centre of the attack on the left wing, scoring four trys and setting up another in a dominant effort for the back.
Within five minutes the Lions had a 19-0 advantage.
Following a short score, Kaiden Powell returned the ensuing kickoff to the house then fly-half Dan Larson danced in untouched after a scrum win deep in the Lethbridge half.
Rehak then scored two straight majors, the first on a powerful run keeping his legs churning and carrying defenders into the try-zone with him and the second on a pure sprint down the sideline.
He then played provider, using a last-ditch no look off-load to full-back Lucas Chute who tip-toed in for five more points. The Lions led 40-7 at the half.
The star of the afternoon punched in two quick scores in the second half, the latter on a blocked kick and recovery in the try-zone. Powell added his second try of the contest and forward Kody Palin put an exclamation point on the victory with a terrific solo effort in open-field to round out the 62-point performance.
Foothills improved to 6-3 in the CRU with the victory.
For more information go to foothillslionsrfc.org