The Robert Bateman Timberwolves and Yale Lions both suffered quarter-final losses at the AAA B.C. high school boys rugby championship at Exhibition Park on Wednesday, but the post-game reactions were a reminder that the sting of defeat can vary greatly based on context.
The No. 4-seeded Timberwolves had their sights set on the Final Four, but fell 21-10 to the No. 5 Lord Byng Grey Ghosts of Vancouver – a bitter pill to swallow for a talented Bateman team coming off the first AAA Fraser Valley title in program history.
“They (Lord Byng) played way better on the day,” T-Wolves co-coach Dave Chambers analyzed. “We made too many mistakes – we missed our tackles and gave them opportunities that they took advantage of. And we didn’t take our opportunities. We had too many dropped balls, little things like that.”
The Lions, likewise, lost by a 26-20 count to the Shawnigan Lake Stags, but they were happier with their performance. The top-seeded Stags are the five-time defending B.C. AAA champs and were expected to make short work of No. 9 Yale, but the Lions gave them a fierce battle. A converted try would have given them the lead in the late going, and they were knocking on the door in Shawnigan Lake territory when time expired.
“I’m real proud of the guys – this is the best game we’ve played this season,” Yale coach Doug Primrose said.
“Our game plan was to keep things tight, try and keep the score close, and you never know what happens at the end of the game, right? And it almost worked out.”
Shawnigan Lake led 21-13 at the half, with Yale’s points coming on Noah Bain’s try and Surge Francis’s two penalty kicks and a convert.
The Stags got a try early in the second half to go up 26-13, but the Lions’ Jason Hignell responded with a try which Francis converted to get them back to within 26-20. Their late rally fell short, but Primrose was smiling afterward.
“The boys’ work rate today was better than it’s been all season,” he said. “They were just working hard, making tackles and really disrupting things that they wanted to do. They weren’t able to have a lot of space, and when you give them space, then you’re in trouble.”
Bateman was within striking distance of Lord Byng in the second half, trailing 14-10, when a Grey Ghosts player intercepted a pass near midfield and rumbled all the way for a back-breaking try. The T-Wolves got tries from Jake Thiel and Kolby Steen in the loss.
The two Abbotsford rivals now go head-to-head in a local derby on Thursday (1:30 p.m., Exhibition Park) for the right to play in the fifth-sixth placing game on Saturday (1 p.m.). Bateman has beaten Yale in two prior meetings this season, but both sides know that previous records go out the window at this point.
“It’s going to be a battle,” Chambers predicted. “We’ve been in that situation in previous years, where they’ve beaten us throughout the regular season and then we came after them in playoffs. We’ll just have to go again and play rugby.”
On the AA scene, the Rick Hansen Hurricanes and Abby Senior Panthers both lost in consolation-side action.
The Hurricanes dropped a 25-14 decision to Glenlyon Norfolk, while Abby Senior – a late addition to the tourney – fell 55-7 to Sir Charles Tupper.
Hansen plays G.W. Graham on Thursday, while the Panthers face L.V. Rogers (both games at 10 a.m.).