Ali Lee

VICTORIA – The Vikes men’s rugby team is turning a new leaf in their season as their island-based VIRU Elite league draws closer towards an end. This weekend, the Vikes will play in the first Canadian Direct Insurance sponsored premier game of the season, the top tier of a province-wide league, against Abbotsford. The game will take place at Wallace Field on Nov. 19 at 2:45 p.m.

The Vikes will be over-lapping leagues as they begin their premier league games this weekend and play for the the Barnard Cup – the VIRU Championship – next weekend. Following the regular season, the Vikes finished first in the VIRU league, earning them the rights to host the the Barnard Cup for the first time in over two decades. That game will take place next weekend, at Centennial Stadium, at 2:45 p.m against the James Bay Athletic Association.

In the meantime, the team will take on Abbotsford and they will be without a few key people, including head coach Doug Tate. The Vikes will also be missing scrum half Phil Mack and outside centre Sean Duke, who are both currently away with the Canadian Rugby Sevens team.

“I have a really good track record when Doug (Tate) is away,” said assistant coach Rick Farrally, who will be stepping in to command the troops this weekend against Abbotsford.

“Abbotsford is one of the aspiring teams coming out of the mix. We will for sure be short-handed without Phil Mack and Sean Duke this weekend. You never know what is going to happen when you are missing your key guys,” Farrally said.

Stepping in for Duke at centre will be Michael Fuailefau, a first-year from Victoria, B.C., and in for Mack at scrum half will be second-year Tony LaCarte, of Surrey, B.C.

Abbotsford is led by head coach Jason Young, who coached the senior women’s national team as well as the U16 team at Canadian Nationals. Captain Chris Chalmers is also an up and comer as he has competed with the BC Senior men’s team at the Canadian Rugby Championships.

The Vikes are currently unbeaten in five and have only conceded one loss, by a score of 23-22 on Sept. 24 against James Bay. WIth an impressive 2011 track record, the Vikes look confident going into their first premier match this weekend.