Hansen, Yale lead local contingent at boys rugby provincials

Home field advantage didn't translate into medals for Abbotsford's high school boys rugby teams, but there was plenty for the locals to be pleased about after the B.C. championships wrapped up at Exhibition Park on Saturday.

Home field advantage didn’t translate into medals for Abbotsford’s high school boys rugby teams, but there was plenty for the locals to be pleased about after the B.C. championships wrapped up at Exhibition Park on Saturday.

The Rick Hansen Hurricanes came the closest to the podium, dropping a 28-17 decision to the Rockridge Ravens of West Vancouver in the AA bronze medal game. But Hurricanes head coach Bo Sidhu was in a celebratory mood, noting that fourth place represented the best provincial finish in the history of the Hansen boys rugby program.

“The top three teams (in AA), they’ve been powerhouses for the past 15 years,” Sidhu said, referring to gold medallist Collingwood, runner-up Brentwood College, and Rockridge.

“For us to be able to compete against those teams, it’s been fantastic for Hansen rugby. We’ve made leaps and bounds with our program, and we’re only going to move forward.”

Rockridge opened a 19-5 lead at halftime of the bronze medal game, with Daniel McCutcheon accounting for Hansen’s lone try. But the ‘Canes didn’t quit – tries from Arsh Gill and Justin Carey after the break kept the score close.

Gill’s try was of the highlight-reel variety – he shook a Rockridge defender with a spin move, then stiff-armed two other Ravens en route to the end zone.

“We could have packed it in, but we kept coming,” Sidhu noted. “The difference in the game was, they just have a little bit more rugby sense than we do. We were just as physical as them.”

In AAA action, the Yale Lions fell 41-24 to the St. George’s Saints of Vancouver in the fifth-sixth placing game. Despite the loss, the Lions matched the best provincial finish in school history. The last time Yale finished sixth at the B.C.’s was back in 1988, when current head coach Doug Primrose was the team captain.

“I was a little bit torn – I didn’t want the guys to beat my record,” joked Primrose, whose team got a pair of tries from Brandon Jobb against St. George’s. “But it’s a great showing for us.

“We were 10 minutes away from going to the Final Four (losing 18-15 to Carson Graham in the quarter-finals), and the boys played well all tournament. They should be proud.”

After sustaining a disappointing defeat to St. Michael’s University in the first round, the Robert Bateman Timberwolves knew they could finish no higher than ninth place in the AAA draw. They dug deep and did just that, capping a three-game winning streak with a wild 52-42 win over G.P. Vanier of Courtenay in the ninth-10th placing game.

Justin Douglas turned in a dominant performance for the T-Wolves, racking up four tries.

“We were trading points like a basketball game,” marveled Bateman coach Dave Chambers. “And it’s not as if the defence was terrible. It was some good offensive play, and I wouldn’t say any of the tries were soft.

“As a coach, I really like defence – I’m always fond of the games where nobody scores on us. But at the same time, they (Vanier) are a very good team, and they had some offensive firepower.”

IN BRIEF:

• The Shawnigan Lake Stags claimed the AAA title, trouncing Oak Bay of Victoria 43-0 in the final. The Collingwood Cavaliers of West Van were crowned AA champs, edging Brentwood College of Mill Bay 28-21.

• Local athletes on the Commissioner’s 15 all-star rosters included McCutcheon of the Hurricanes, Yale’s Christian Styles, and Tanner Saliken of Bateman.