Abbotsford rugby men on a roll in second half

Graeme McRury of the Abbotsford Rugby Club’s first division men’s side hauls down a Bayside ballcarrier during Saturday’s game at Exhibition Park. - John Morrow
Graeme McRury of the Abbotsford Rugby Club’s first division men’s side hauls down a Bayside ballcarrier during Saturday’s game at Exhibition Park.
— image credit: John Morrow

Enhanced depth has pushed the Abbotsford Rugby Football Club's men's teams to greater heights this spring.

After some struggles during the first half of the season, the club added five first-division athletes to their player pool – among them 20-year-old tighthead prop Ryan March, who had spent the latter months of 2013 with the Canadian senior men's national team.

Those arrivals created a trickle-down effect, as former first-division players were assigned to the seconds and former second-division players joined the thirds.

Add it all up, and you get days like last Saturday, when the club's three men's sides swept all of their games at Exhibition Park.

The first division men beat Bayside, a team they had lost to in the first half of the season, by a 27-12 score, with Some Mosogau (forwards) and Connor Hunter (backs) earning man of the match honours.

The seconds blanked their Bayside counterparts 14-0 with Tanner Saliken (forwards) and Scott Alexander (backs) getting man of the match nods, and the thirds beat Chilliwack 55-32 in a high-scoring affair.

"Right across the board, our teams are doing better in the second half," noted Harry Toews, the ARFC's first-year men's coach. "We've had five players come out in the second half that were of first division quality ... and it's sort of that knock-on effect, where you've got greater-skilled and more experienced players moving into each of those divisions."

The club's second-half surge has come too late for the first division squad – they're in fourth place in the Okanagan Spring Brewery League 1 with an 8-7 record, 10 points back of Richmond for the third and final playoff spot. While they're mathematically alive, it's highly unlikely they'll be able to rally past them.

The seconds and thirds, though, are both in post-season position – Abbotsford's 10-5 record is good for third place in League 2, and the third team's 6-1 record is tops in the Mainland Tier B division.

"The big thing we're shooting for is getting our second and third division teams into the playoffs," Toews noted.

"Had we had our same team together all year round that we had in the second half, I would have hoped for better (in the first division). But knowing what we had for the whole year, if we get to fourth spot, I think that's a realistic spot for what we've put into it this year. It's a matter of getting those guys out on a regular basis."

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