Spencer Miller of the Yale Lions

Spencer Miller of the Yale Lions

Lions boys, Panthers girls excel at high school rugby sevens provincial tourney

The Yale boys won bronze, but lost star scrum half Spencer Miller for the season with a broken jaw.

You could forgive Yale Lions senior boys rugby coach Doug Primrose if he didn’t know whether to celebrate or mourn in the aftermath of his team’s bronze medal performance at the B.C. high school sevens tournament on the weekend at UBC.

On one hand, the Lions registered the first podium finish by an Abbotsford school at the provincial sevens event since 2000, when the Robert Bateman Timberwolves took silver.

The downside was, star scrum half Spencer Miller was knocked out of Yale’s semifinal defeat to eventual champion St. George’s of Vancouver, and it was later discovered that he’d broken his jaw in two places.

Miller, a member of B.C.’s championship-winning U18 sides at the prestigious Hong Kong International Sevens tournament each of the past two years, will be sidelined for the balance of the high school rugby season. His absence will surely affect a Lions team which is on pace for the greatest 15’s season in school history – they’re currently ranked No. 3 among AAA teams in B.C.

“It’s a big loss, but we’re pretty solid all around and we’ve got a lot of depth,” Primrose said. “We always know there are going to be injury issues during the season, and we’re still really confident with our team.”

Indeed, Yale’s collective performance on the weekend was impressive. They cruised through pool play with three straight wins, out-scoring opponents 109-10 along the way, then beat Elgin Park 32-12 in the quarter-finals.

The Lions fell 19-0 to St. George’s in the semis, but bounced back to beat Kelowna 29-12 to clinch the bronze. Daniel Davidson was Yale’s top try scorer on the weekend, and other standouts included Spencer Loughlin and Surge Francis.

“I think we got a dose of confidence,” Primrose said. “The guys realize now that they’re one of the elite teams in the province, and they can beat anyone on any given day.”

In other senior boys sevens action, Bateman   lost all three of its pool-play games, but battled their way to the Bowl final, where they fell 43-5 to St. Michael’s University.

On the girls’ side, the Abbotsford Senior Panthers made a valiant defence of the sevens championship they won in 2012, but fell just shy of the podium.

The Panthers went 3-0 in pool play and blanked Carson Graham of North Vancouver 21-0 in the quarters.

They suffered a heartbreaking loss to eventual champ Cowichan in the semis, though. Abby led 12-5 in the late going, but Cowichan scored a try and a convert with one minute remaining in regulation and went on to prevail 17-12 in sudden death OT.

In the bronze medal game, Shawnigan Lake denied the Panthers by a score of 22-12, despite tries from Gurpreet Dhaliwal and Minnie Inthapanya.

“We’re really, really proud of the girls,” said Peter Cannon, who coaches the Abby squad with Stephanie Doan and Matt Myers. “We just ran out of gas against Shawnigan Lake. You could see the effort they were putting out and how hard they were trying, but the tank was empty. We were happy with the performance, even though we were disappointed we didn’t win the championship.”

Bateman and Hansen were also in action on the girls’ side, but their runs at the tourney came to an end in the Plate and Shield quarter-finals, respectively.