Teenage Island rugby star back from international tour

Flyhalf Max Abercrombie on track with Rugby Canada U18 program

Rugby Canada U18 flyhalf Max Abercrombie lines up a kick during the U18 tournament in San Diego. Abercrombie was part of the Oak Bay Barbarians 2018 provincial championship and will play flyhalf for the Barbs when the season starts around spring break. (Photo by Lance Abercrombie)

The high school rugby season is still more than two months away but Oak Bay’s Max Abercrombie is already in fine form.

The Grade 12 student was in San Diego last week for a pair of international tests against USA U18 on Dec. 28 and 31. Canada took 50 players, split as Canada White and Canada Red.

It’s been a long journey for the kid who started as a mini with the Castaway Wanderers.

Abercrombie lined up for Canada Red at flyhalf (No. 10) on Dec. 28, kicking two conversions in a 26-19 loss to USA U18 Blue. He then lined up at fullback (No. 15) on Dec. 31, again kicking the conversions in a 33-25 win over USA U18 White. He also played in a 51-14 win over a South African academy team on Jan. 3 as part of the World Youth Rugby Festival in Los Angeles.

It’s the second-straight trip to San Diego with the Canadian U18 team for Abercrombie, who is hoping to feature for Rugby Canada at its U18 invitational at Shawnigan Lake this spring.

Abercrombie’s future looks good, said Sean White, a former Canadian sevens player who is an Oak Bay alma matter. White is now the head coach of James Bay premier men’s rugby team and, with Castaway Wanderers head coach Scott Manning, the two were Canada’s backs U18 mens backs’ coaches in San Diego.

“Max reads the game so well,” White said. “Seeing him in the 15s set-up, there’s a lot going on and he’s able to calculate the decision in 15s and stand out in that regard.”

And while Abercrombie was captain of the Oak Bay High soccer team this fall it’s his rugby resume that’s padded up. As a Grade 10 junior, Abercrombie helped the Oak Bay Barbarians win the senior provincial 15s championship in the spring of 2018. Later that year he helped the Castaway Wanderers win the U18 provincial championship in December.

“The hope is to play at university and for Canada’s U20 team and go from there,” Abercrombie said. “I’d like to study kinesiology at [the University of B.C.] and apply for med school.

The UBC Thunderbirds rugby program has caught up to the University of Victoria Vikes as a top men’s rugby program in the country.

“It’d be ideal if I can develop my skills with UBC, one of the best teams in the country,” he said.

In 2019, the Barbs were unable to advance beyond fourth place in the high school super league as Shawinigan Lake were once again the 15s provincial champions.

It’s still early but Abercrombie is excited for this year’s school season, his last as a Barb, and another shot at a provincial title.

“I’m really looking forward to the [school] season and a new year,” Abercrombie said. “There’s a lot of young talent on the team and looking forward to finishing high school career off on a high.”

A trio of Victoria-based players played for the Rugby Canada U18 women’s program last week. St. Michaels University School student Chloe Hill-Huse, a fellow Castaway Wanderers player, was joined by two UVic Vikes, Regan Casey of Ottawa and Madison Jumeau (a Castaway Wanderers player from Duncan).

reporter@oakbaynews.com

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