January 22, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The storied McKechnie Cup competition returns to centre stage this weekend when Vancouver and Vancouver Island’s regional teams scrum down and revive a tradition that dates back to 1896.
The cup was last contested for in 2004 and after years of sitting dormant, three of BC’s major subunions – Fraser Valley being the third – will battle for the coveted trophy this winter.
Revival of McKechnie Cup, Ruth Hellerud-Brown Cup and U20 Dunbar Keg underway on January 26th
BC RUGBY CUPS COMPETITIONS
Date: Saturday, January 26th
Vancouver at Vancouver Island
Location: Westhills Stadium, Langford (1089 Langford Parkway)
Kickoff Times: 11:30am Ruth Hellerud Brown Cup; 1:15pm U20 Dunbar Cup; 3:00pm McKechnie Cup
Admission Fee: $10
VANCOUVER ISLAND VS VANCOUVER
The Vancouver Island Tide have been in preparation for this weekend’s opener since early December holding trials in the southern and northern regions of the Island. In the last 10 years the cup was contested for, the Tide were five-time provincial champions, including a rare three-peat from 1995-97.
One Island Tide player to have lifted the McKechnie Cup was Roger Robinson, a mainstay in the Castaway Wanderers RFC setup. In recent years Robinson went on to win provincial club titles with CW and in 2011 coached the Island’s U20 Rising Tide team to an undefeated Dunbar Keg championship. Along with fellow CW stalwart Kenny Goodland and Manager Hans de Goede, Robinson has taken the reigns for Vancouver Island’s senior men’s representative program and will be co-coaching the team through the 2013 series.
Robinson has been impressed by the turnout at the team’s recent sessions and spoke to the importance of a competition that allows players from different divisions a chance to be noticed by provincial and national team selectors.
“So far we’ve had upwards of 45-50 guys out for training and they are from Port Alberni, Comox, Cowichan, Castaway Wanderers, James Bay and Velox,” Robinson said. “There are guys that we really would not have heard of it wasn’t for the process of selecting this team. I think it’s an important tournament otherwise you might miss those hidden gems.”
“It will improve the players who aren’t in premier competition right now because they will raise their standards and play to the level of the guys around them,” Robinson added. “If they get the experience playing alongside these top level guys and see what it’s like to be part of that culture of representative rugby they will only get better.”
Robinson himself first moved out to BC from Ontario several years ago with goals of playing more rugby and working his way into the national team setup.
“I remember when I first came out here it was such a big thing to play for the Tide, where some Canada guys wouldn’t even make the team,” Robinson said. “I was able to get chosen and it was an amazing experience to be part of the history and the culture of the program. It’s an important part of the gateway to the provincial and national teams. You have to test some of these guys to see who stands out and deserves to make it to the next level. “
There is a lot of excitement around who will be playing for the 2013 edition of the Tide and Robinson has been fielding phone calls and emails in recent weeks over who might crack the roster.
“The Island rugby community is very proud of the program’s history and there are some strong traditions being revived. Lots of people have been asking about this year’s team and that shows the excitement around the competition,” Robinson added.
Robinson was reluctant in naming standouts and says competition for starting positions is still in full wing. One player to be putting his hand up for selection was Robinson’s former U20 captain Doug Fraser who has been excelling recently with the University of Victoria Vikes. Remi Antcil, a fellow Vike and Premier League standout, has also shown well in training. Key players to keep an eye on also include former national team player Scott Franklin and Cowichan-based speedster Robin MacDowell.
First up for the Tide is Vancouver, who like the Island have three Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League teams to draw from as well as multiple quality sides currently competing in the First Division Okanagan Spring Brewery League.
“With the history behind this tournament and the rivalry between the regions, there will be a great competitive nature to the games,” Robinson added. “We don’t know what to expect this weekend but we know we will have some very tough games against both unions.”
BC RUGBY CUPS COMPETITIONS
The BC Rugby Cups Competitions are a series of representative rugby matches to be played over three weekends. The series gets underway this Saturday, January 26th with the Vancouver Island Rugby Union hosting the Vancouver Rugby Union. The competition will provide BC athletes the opportunity to further profile their abilities for both provincial and national team selectors. On February 2nd, Vancouver Island’s teams will travel to Abbotsford to battle Fraser Valley Rugby Union and the final leg of the series will feature Fraser Valley’s programs away to Vancouver.