Andrew Smith

Vancouver, BC: The Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League, British Columbia’s highest caliber of elite men’s rugby will resume this weekend with a trio of thrilling matchups. Looking to shake off the rust after a two-month break in the winter schedule, six teams will go head-to-head to see who goes top of the table on Saturday.

Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League – Sat. January 28th:

Abbotsford RFC at James Bay AA (MacDonald Park) 2:45pm

UVic Vikes at Castaway Wanderers RFC (Windsor Park) 2:45pm

Burnaby Lake Rugby Club at Capilano RFC (Klahanie Park) 2:45pm

Season Preview:

The 2012 Premier League will once again be a proving ground for national team prospects, as players continue to flock west to display their skills in front of Vancouver Island-based national team coaches.

Of the 30-man Canadian senior men’s national team roster to compete at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, no fewer than 27 players had at one point featured in local British Columbian club leagues. BC’s top tier has proven to be a launching pad for a number of players who have signed European professional contracts in recent years including DTH van der Merwe (Glasgow Warriors/ Scotland), Adam Kleeberger (London Scottish/ England), Phil and Jamie Mackenzie (Esher RFC/ England), Chauncey O’Toole (Ospreys/ Wales), Jebb Sinclair (London Irish/ England), Tyler Hotson (Plymouth Albion RFC/ England), and North Shore products Jamie Cudmore (ASM Clermont/ France) and Jason Marshall (Stade Arillacois/ France).

With the new Rugby Canada Centre of Excellence officially open in Langford, the Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League will be the only place for local rugby fans to see the nation’s current and future stars on a weekly basis.

The 2012 Spring season kicks off with reigning Rounsefell Cup champions Castaway Wanderers (1-1) hosting the UVic Vikes (1-1) at Windsor Park in a rematch of last year’s semifinal. CW sent UVic crashing out of the playoffs in that meeting on April 30th with a convincing 38-18 defeat. Across town, James Bay Athletic Association (2-0) are at home to Abbotsford RFC (0-2), a Fraser Valley outfit looking to prove themselves in BC’s top tier. Lower Mainland fans, meanwhile, will be treated to a rematch of the 2011 Miller Cup championship when Capilano RFC (2-0) plays host to bitter rivals Burnaby Lake Rugby Club (2-0).

Four playoff berths will be up for grabs this season with the semifinals tentatively scheduled for Saturday, May 5th. The Rounsefell Cup Final is slated for May 12th to determine the province’s elite men’s club side. Here is a look at the eight clubs competing for the coveted trophy.