Falcons glide through playoffs, win South Region title

Forest Hill rugby coach Jeff Naylor credits the five pre-season practices his team had at the Upper Canada College dome for its undefeated record.

The Falcons’ bench boss shares his thoughts after the squad thumped Monarch Park Lions 61-5 May 22 in South Region Tier 2 play on Forest Hill’s field.

“We rented an indoor field for a couple of practices just to let the guys know how to play and how to properly tackle,” Naylor said. “It’s a TDSB requirement that the boys have a minimum of eight practices before playing.

“I would like to think the reason for their ability to break free is their ability to know where they’re supposed to be standing.”

The team is heading into the Tier 2 playoffs with an unblemished record after overtaking Western Tech Colts on May 27. They won that game handily, 45-5.

Playing a big role in that charge for the Falcons is captain, and fly-off, Tudor Chirila, who stood on the sidelines in the game against Monarch Park so the bench could get some playing time.

“[This year’s] been good,” he said. “We started off slow with a rather unconvincing win against Humberside.

“At this point, I’m not worried. I’m pretty confident in our guys. If we can stay healthy and avoid injuries I think we’re going to be set.”

From the captain’s viewpoint, props Aaron Wygodny and Kris Vaso have been big players on the field.

“They’ve been our bruisers, doing all the dirty work, and they’re the guys that pick up the small yards,” Chirila said.

But a lack of weight is what brought the traditionally Tier 1 team down to Tier 2 to play, says Naylor.

“We made an evaluation of the players that we had in December, and realized that we were too light to play at the Tier 1 level and we made the decision to play at Tier 2,” he said. “We didn’t have a team last year at Forest Hill, and so an overwhelming number of our players are new to the game.”

Still the team has done well without, piling up the trys, converts and generally wreaking havoc on the field. Larne Larinjo and Pedro Quintanilla provided strong outings against Monarch Park, and Chirila added Sergio Restano has been key in setting up scoring drives.

“He’s my scrum half, and he’s been the main reason why the offence is as lethal as it has been,” Chirila said. “He gets me the ball quickly, and it gives me a chance to lead the attack.”

Playoffs were set to start May 29 for the Falcons, and a Tier 2 title is their quarry. They were successful in pulling that off with a 27-19 win over Humberside Huskies in the South Region finals.

“I’d say that’s our main goal,” Chirila said. “If we’re able to do anything after that, but the title is the goal right now.”