They’re calling it one of the biggest wins in the history of the Abbotsford Rugby Football Club.
With Premiership qualification on the line, playing in front of some 600 fans on Saturday at Abbotsford Exhibition Park, Abby scored a last-minute try to go up on Burnaby 24-22.
It was Graeme MacRury with the winner, as the winger took the ball off a broken play and sprinted 50 yards to score his third try of the game. That tied the game 22-22, and Patrick Shields kicked the convert to put Abby ahead.
Then they held off Burnaby’s all-out attack for five minutes of injury time.
“They came at us with everything they had,” said coach Jason Young.
He and the rest of the sideline held their breath on every tackle – a penalty kick could have given Burnaby the three points they needed for the win.
Battle tested veteran Chris Chalmers led the defensive stand, as Abby met the Burnaby ball carriers with clean hits as the clock slowly wound down. Chalmers was man of the match for the forwards.
“Everyone was making big tackles,” noted Young. “We really came together as a team.”
In addition to MacRury’s three tries, Some Mosogau also had one.
With the B.C. Rugby Union restructuring this year, Abbotsford had to re-qualify for the premier league. Both they and Burnaby entered Saturday’s contest with 2-1 records in qualifying action.
“This win takes us to the next step, where we’re one of the top clubs in the country,” said Young.
Competing at the top level is important to the organization, which prides itself on developing young players. It would be hard to attract elite talent playing in the lower ranks. ARFC is the only Fraser Valley team to qualify for the top tier.
“Premier gives you a good, hard, quality, fast game each week,” Young said. “You don’t learn anything by beating someone by 60 points.”
Abbotsford is home to the reigning provincial champs Castaway Wanderers on Saturday for their first Premier League match.
In other action, the Abbotsford U-19 men won 39-7 over Surrey. Tyson Adams had two tries. The Division 1 men lost 44-0 to Burnaby.