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Andrew Smith

June 4, 2013, Vancouver, BC (ISN) – After lifting their second straight tier two Okanagan Spring Brewery League men’s provincial title this past May, Vancouver Rowing Club are moving back up to the Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League.

“The Vancouver Rowing Club has decided, as a club, to accept promotion to the CDI Premier League. This was not an easy decision and not one we rushed to or took lightly,” said Jeremy Sabell, Rowers Director of Rugby Operations. “We wanted to be sure that our players understood and accepted the degree to which they would need to prepare themselves physically for the CDI because we see the biggest gap between the Premiership and the Okanagan Spring League to be in the strength, size and conditioning of the athletes.”

The Rowers went 11-5 in league play during the 2012-13 season and defeated Abbotsford RFC 31-27 in the provincial final to earn the right to be promoted.

The club accepted promotion to the top tier eight-team league and will be playing Premier level rugby next September. The Rowers will be replacing the relegated Bayside Sharks of White Rock who finished in eighth place this year.

“There were excellent arguments both for and against going up, but in the end we felt that we needed to seize an opportunity that may not come around again next year,” added Sabell. “We know that promotion is a huge challenge, but the entire club has embraced it as an opportunity to better ourselves in every aspect and we look forward to competing.”

BC’s top level club competition, the Canadian Direct insurance Premier League regularly features a number of Canadian internationals on the national XVs, Sevens and Under-20 rosters. Of the 27-man roster to compete in the Americas Rugby Championship for Canada-A this past October, 18 players were graduates or current participants in the CDI Premier League.

The Rowers will be the fifth Lower Mainland team in the competition next season as they join North Shore club Capilano RFC, Vancouver’s Meraloma Rugby Club and UBCOB Ravens as well as 2013 Rounsefell Cup finalists Burnaby Lake Rugby Club. Island representatives will include 2013 provincial champs James Bay, Castaway Wanderers and the University of Victoria Vikes.

The Rowers last played a full season of Premier Level rugby in 2010 where they finished ninth in the 12-team table. Vancouver Rowing Club have lifted the Rounsefell Cup three times in the club’s history, their most recent championship in 1995.