‘Lots of positives’ for Abbotsford rugby men

When Jason Young evaluates his team's season, he looks beyond the wins and losses.

Brodie Henderson of the Abbotsford Premier League men’s rugby squad finds a seam against Burnaby.

Brodie Henderson of the Abbotsford Premier League men’s rugby squad finds a seam against Burnaby.

When Jason Young, head coach of the Abbotsford Rugby Football Club’s top men’s side, evaluates his team’s season, he looks beyond the wins and losses.

And given the ARFC’s 1-13 record in the CDI Premier League, it might seem like that’s taking the easy way out.

But that’s far from the case, and Young knew heading into the team’s second season on Canada’s top rugby circuit that wins would be tough to come by. The ARFC, after all, hadn’t notched a single Premier League victory in 2010-11.

So the goal was simply to show improvement in terms of performance, and in that respect, Young’s charges succeeded. They were competitive in every game, and even notched a victory over UVic on March 17.

“We really improved,” asserted Young, whose team wrapped up the season with a 43-17 loss to Capilano on Saturday. “Our first team wasn’t getting blown out, so you could see our depth was getting better.

“There are lots of positives. We have a very young club, and for them to play at the highest level was good.”

Young was heartened by the growth he saw from up-and-comers like Chris Chalmers, Aaron Flagg, Brent Bradbury and Ryan March, supplemented by strong leadership from veterans including Ryan McWhinney and Harry Toews.

At the same time, Young didn’t mince words in assessing what it will take for the club to reach contender status in the Premier League.

“If they want to be at this level, there’s got to be more commitment from the guys to put in that extra effort,” he said. “Week in and week out, we’re playing against national team players who are training five or six days a week.

“The two training sessions we have (per week) isn’t enough. It’s getting into the gym, it’s doing some running on your own. The young guys, if they want it, that’s what they’ve got to strive for.”

Abbotsford finished at the bottom of the eight-team Premier League, and as such, they’re poised for relegation this fall. There’s a chance they could remain on the top circuit, though, if Tier 2 regular season champ Bayside Sharks elects not to move up.

“Maybe it’s not a bad thing,” Young said, reflecting on a possible move down. “For us, especially with all our youth, we’d get a few wins under our belt. But my biggest thing is, it still has to be competitive, top-level rugby. If it is that, I’m all for it. But if you’re beating a team by 70 points, you’re not learning anything.”

Flagg, Konrad Rybkowski and Darwin Guevara scored tries in Abby’s season-ending loss to Capilano, while Connor Hunter booted a convert.

In other action, the Abbotsford Div. 1 men fell 34-10 to Capilano, despite a try, a convert and a penalty kick from Jordan Tait-Comis. The Abby women fell 39-5 to Cowichan in the Div. 1 women’s semifinal.