If the Fraser Valley junior and Grade 8 boys rugby championships are any indication, the future of the sport at Yale Secondary is awfully bright.
The Yale Lions Grade 10 squad knocked off the Robert Bateman Timberwolves, their East Abbotsford rivals, 34-21 in the regional title game on their home turf on Wednesday afternoon.
Earlier in the day, the Falcons of W.A. Fraser Middle – one of Yale’s feeder schools – won the Grade 8 championship with a dominant 41-5 triumph over the H.D. Stafford SkyHawks of Langley.
“It says a lot for the program,” noted Yale junior co-coach Scott Hunter, reflecting on the two Valley titles, along with the fact the Lions senior boys have earned a berth to AAA provincials.
“Having all three teams do well is great. We have a lot of good players coming up right now, and things are looking good for the future.”
Yale and Bateman met for the second straight year in the Valley championship game. The T-Wolves were the defending champs, but the Lions avenged that result with a steady performance on Wednesday.
Jake Froehler led the offensive charge with a pair of tries, while Kaden McLeod, Surge Francis, Travis Murray and Jake DeCecco scored one apiece. Francis also booted a trio of converts.
Bateman got a try and three converts from Gavin Rowell, while Brenden Green and Torin Evans notched one try each.
T-Wolves coach Daniel Webster was pleased with his team’s defensive performance against the powerhouse Lions, and lauded the “great” rugby rivalry between the two schools.
“We dug deep and had a very good team effort,” he said. “It was unlucky a couple of our attacking opportunities didn’t turn out better.”
FALCONS FLYING HIGH
The Falcons’ dominance in the Grade 8 final had head coach Ryan McWhinney wondering if this was the best boys rugby team in school history. That would be saying something – Wednesday’s triumph marked W.A. Fraser’s fourth regional title in recent years.
“We’ve had some good teams, but this is the most decisive win we’ve ever had,” said McWhinney, who has been with the program since its inception seven years ago.
“With this group, we’ve struggled at times to get them to stay focused. But today they were very focused and showed us they’ve learned some things throughout the season. They wanted it bad, and they performed. We’re very proud of the job they did.”
Chris Combs scored a hat trick of tries for the Falcons, while Joel Ratzlaff, Thomas Rennie, Zach McKee and Kyle Davies had one each. Matt Ponte booted three converts.
SENIOR RUGBY PROVINCIALS OPEN THIS WEEKEND
On the senior boys rugby scene, Yale and Bateman are set to begin their runs at AAA provincials on Saturday.
Both teams play their first-round games at St. George’s School in Vancouver. The T-Wolves, ranked No. 6 in B.C., take on the No. 11 Handsworth Royals of North Vancouver at 1:30 p.m., with the No. 8-ranked Lions facing No. 9 Lord Byng of Vancouver at 3 p.m.
The first round of the AAA and AA provincials run at locations around the province, with the balance of the tournament being hosted at Abbotsford’s Exhibition Park, May 30 to June 2.
Zach McKee of the W.A. Fraser Falcons accelerates away from an H.D. Stafford opponent during the Fraser Valley Grade 8 boys rugby final. (Dan Kinvig photo)