Axemen dominant in Division 3 play 

Club expanding its 'family' in the Sea to Sky

click to enlarge PHOTO BY PETER LALOR - CHOPPING ON The Axemen Rugby Club is leading BC Rugbys mens mainland division 3, but has plenty of other exciting developments.
  • Photo by Peter Lalor
  • CHOPPING ON The Axemen Rugby Club is leading BC Rugby<0x2019>s men<0x2019>s mainland division 3, but has plenty of other exciting developments.

With an 11-1 record and a 436-82 point differential, the Axemen Rugby Club is in the midst of an incredible season in BC Rugby's men's mainland division 3.

However, even with just two games left in regular-season play on the eve of the playoffs, head coach Blake Mahovic is almost more eager to talk about all the other exciting developments happening with the Sea to Sky's home club.

Firstly, before Saturday's 43-5 romp over Capilano, the Axemen fielded a second team for the first time, playing to a 20-0 exhibition win.

"It's a great time," he said. "They (Capilano) were really great to be able to bring two teams up. They don't normally operate with two squads, so they called in some players, which was awesome of Capilano to do."

All told, the Axemen had 36 players available to play in the match.

As for the main team, Mahovic said that the biggest change for the steamrolling squad hasn't been anything major—there just has been increased commitment.

"We just took it down to basics, we put in a game plan and we put in an environment where people wanted to play," he said. "We've always known we've got the talent to compete at a really high level. It was about getting the buy-in and how we do that as a club.

"We want to be a home away from home for people."

The Axemen are in the midst of a four-game homestand before playoffs, with games set for the next two Saturdays at 12:45 p.m. at Howe Sound Secondary School. Having such a long stretch of games at home is welcome for the players and, Mahovic hopes, for a steadily growing fanbase in the Sea to Sky.

"It's been amazing, because it really rewards those guys who have been playing all the way through the winter," he said. "We go and play in the city, all the way down to Chilliwack and White Rock to play.

"We want those players to come back and play on our home ground, but also, it's something for the community."

Next season, the Axemen hope to have the existing team promoted to division 2, run a new team in division 3 and add a women's squad as well.

"We're going to be pushing for promotion this year, and then ideally—there are still some discussions to be had—we will add another team into the league that we're currently competing in," he said.

The Axemen have traditionally had a marginally higher proportion of players from Whistler as compared to Squamish, Mahovic said, but after tapping Quest University, he reckoned that the numbers are now an equal split.

The higher participation is welcome, as Mahovic's day job revolves around suicide prevention training and men's mental health, which he said is never far from his mind in his recreational pursuits as he looks to create a positive environment.

"The social connections that you build through rugby is something I felt very strongly in the U.K. and me and some other members of the leadership decided that's what we wanted to do here," he said. "We wanted to offer people not only an avenue to play rugby, but support as well."

The Axemen are also involved at developmental levels, running a program out of Howe Sound Secondary in Squamish and assisting at Whistler Secondary. The club also runs youth programming with 60 kids and the ability to grow.

"The youth program holds jamborees with other clubs, so they have competitions with city clubs. It's not as formal, but they're always accepting more players," he said.

For more information, check out Axemen Rugby Club on Facebook.

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