Andrew Smith 

Abbotsford, BC: The Castaway Wanderers Rugby Football Club kicks off their Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League title defence this weekend when they tavel to the Lower Mainland to face off against Abbotsford RFC.

Match Details

Sat. Nov. 5th: Castaway Wanderers at Abbotsford RFC (CFV Exhibition) 2:30pm

Scouting the Castaway Wanderers

After eight seasons without a provincial title, the Oak Bay Castaway Wanderers went 6-1 during the 2011 Premier League competition, capping off their impressive campaign with a 20-3 championship victory over Meraloma Rugby Club. A star-studded lineup, many of whom went on to represent Canada at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, led the league offensively with 33 points per game and ranked second defensively.

The new-look Castaway Wanderers once again boast an impressive recruiting class for the 2011-2012 season. Former Velox Valhallians standout Pita Savea led the Oak Bay side in scoring during the Vancouver Island Elite season, producing 39 points. Isaac Bainivalu, a former Burnaby Lake standout led the CW side in try scoring having crossed over for five tallies. Looking to fill the void in the front row, the Castaway Wanderers have also enlisted the services of Andrew Tiedemann, a key member of the UVic Vikes Rounsefell Cup run in 2010. CW finished third in the 2011 Island Elite competition this Fall, going 2-4 and missed out on a Barnard Cup berth to the top-seeded UVic Vikes and James Bay Athletic Association. The Oak Bay side have their work cut out for them as the look to lift their fifth Rounsefell Cup.

Scouting Abbotsford RFC

Abbotsford will look to build on an impressive 2010-2011 season which saw them return to the Premier League but miss out on a playoff berth. The Fraser Valley outfit went 0-7, finishing in eighth place last year but went toe-to-toe with some of the provinces top tier clubs. In their final games of the the regular season, Abby fell 26-13 against Burnaby Lake and came within a single point of upsetting powerhouse Meraloma in the season finale, eventually falling 32-31.

Led by their captain Chris Chalmers who was fresh off a summer season with BC in the Canadian Rugby Championship, Abbotsford went 6-1 during the 2011 Spray Elite season and clinched home field advantage for their November 26th semifinal against Burnaby. Their 3-1 record against qualifying teams saw them through to the Premier League competition thanks in large part to their top scorer Patrick Shields who has 42 points to his credit. Veteran leadership from Ryan McWhinney has also benefitted the club as the former Canadian international crossed over for three tries and five conversions.

The Ceili’s Cup clash featuring CW’s and Abbotsford’s Divison One sides is set for 1:00pm with the Premier League fixture set for 2:30pm.

Premier League Qualification

Four teams are currently competing in a round-robin playoff for the eighth and final berth to the 2011-2012 Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League. The competition features three teams from the Lower Mainland (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club, Bayside Sharks RFC and Vancouver Rowing Club) with the lone Vancouver Island contender Velox RFC. The three-round qualification schedule will take place from November 5-19, and the teams will then resume play in the Lower Mainland Spray League playoffs from November 26-December 3rd.

Nov. 5th: Vancouver Rowing Club at Bayside Sharks (South Surrey Athl. Park) 2:30pm

Nov. 5th: Velox Valhallians at Burnaby Lake (Burnaby Lake Sports Complex) 2:30pm

Nov. 12th: Bayside Sharks at Velox Valhallians (Velox RFC) 2:30pm

Nov. 12th: Burnaby Lake at Vancouver Rowing Club (Brockton Oval) 2:30pm

Nov. 19th: Burnaby Lake at Bayside Sharks (South Surrey Athl. Park) 2:30pm

Nov. 19th: Vancouver Rowing Club at Velox Valhallians (Velox RFC) 2:30pm