The Abbotsford Rugby Football Club didn’t have to look far to find a new head coach for its men’s program.
Harry Toews, a longtime ARFC member who suited up for the club as recently as the provincial Division 1 final in May, is transitioning to the role of bench boss. He replaces Jason Young, who served as head coach the past three years and is stepping down due to work commitments.
Toews, 41, boasts a wealth of international experience – he’s played for the Canadian senior men’s national team, and played professionally for a trio of clubs in England.
Carlos Navarrete, a member of the ARFC executive who was involved in the head coaching search, called Toews “the perfect candidate.”
“He’s born and bred Abbotsford Rugby Club, and as far as being qualified, he’s played at an extremely high level,” Navarrete noted. “When he applied for the job, he quickly rose to the top of the pile.”
The Abbotsford men’s program has been bouncing back and forth between the CDI Premier League, the province’s most competitive rugby circuit, and Division 1 in recent years.
Abbotsford spent 2010-11 and 2011-12 in the Premier League, but were relegated after finishing 1-13 the latter season.
The club regrouped to put together a memorable 2012-13 campaign – they put teams into the provincial men’s Div. 1, Div. 2 and Div. 3 finals, with the Div. 2 squad emerging victorious.
Abbotsford has an extremely young player pool, with an average age of 23. Top Premier League squads are generally five or six years older than that, on average.
Toews played for the club during their recent Premier League sojourn, and he said the ARFC is probably two or three years away from being able to make a return. His vision is to help the youngsters develop by providing a solid structure of play for them to work within.
“It’s about developing our skill – there’s a lot of good athletes, but the rugby experience and knowledge, that is still to be developed in my opinion,” he said. “It’s a challenge I look forward to.”