May 28,2014 (ISN) – WEST VANCOUVER, BC – West Vancouver will play host to the 125th Anniversary Fixture of the British Columbia Rugby Union on Saturday, May 31 when BC’s senior men’s representatives scrum down against the Canada Selects at Klahanie Park. The marquee matchup is set to feature the top talent the country has to offer with Canada’s overseas-based professionals and domestic players available for selection.
The match will launch the 125th Anniversary celebrations of the British Columbia Rugby Union, founded in New Westminster in 1889. Made up of over 7,600 members, the BCRU now includes players of all demographics including mini rugby for girls and boys, youth competitions, Over-40’s and senior men’s and women’s participants. Known as ‘BC Rugby’, the Provincial Sport Organization was recognized by Rugby Canada as the 2013 Provincial Union of the Year
The purpose of Saturday’s match is two-fold; along with recognizing BC’s milestone year, Canadian national team coaches will also be using the fixture to select their roster for the June 7th Pacific Nations Cup opener in Burnaby. The Test match will feature Canada against Japan at Swangard Stadium.
“It’s of massive importance to our selection. It will be our only opportunity before a World Cup year to get all our players on the same field,” said Canadian senior men’s national team head coach Kieran Crowley. “It will be great to see our overseas players playing against domestic-based players. The camp leading into it is a chance to work with the guys and at the end of that, we will be able to see guys in the same position as one another.”
The match will also kick off a nine-game summer schedule for the BC Bears, the province’s senior men’s representative program. As part of the 125th Anniversary, the BC Bears will travel to South America for matches against Buenos Aires (July 16) and Uruguay (July 19). The Bears will then return to home soil to compete in the Canadian Rugby Championship as they look to lift their first MacTier Cup since 2009.
The BC men’s provincial team has a storied history, one that has seen them defeat international sides including Australia (11-8, 1958) and the famed British Lions (8-3, 1966). BC has also recorded victories over Test sides Japan (38-7, 1986 & 46-10, 1989), Scotland (22-13, 1985) and Russia (38-16, 2009).
“I’m a bit of a traditionalist in rugby and 125 years is a great number to get to,” added Crowley. “When you get to these milestones I think you’ve got to acknowledge them and pay tribute to the people that have got you there and show that you’re also going to carry on the legacy.”
Building up to their 2014 summer Test schedule, Rugby Canada has assembled a long-list of 50 players for their camp that is currently underway at Langford’s Centre of Excellence.
BC reps from the 2013 Fall Tour where Canada faced New Zealand Maori, Romania, Georgia and Portugal include: Connor Braid (James Bay, Victoria), Tyler Hotson (London Scottish, Vancouver), Jake Ilnicki (Castaway Wanderers, Williams Lake), Harry Jones (Capilano RFC, North Vancouver), Adam Kleeberger (Castaway Wanderers, White Rock), Phil Mack (James Bay, Victoria), Ryan March (Abbotsford RFC, Abbotsford) and Conor Trainor (UBCOB Ravens, Vancouver).
The camp roster also features a number of Canada-capped BC reps including the national team’s most high-profile professional player Jamie Cudmore (ASM Clermont Auvergne, Squamish). Also making a return for the upcoming series is France-based professional Jason Marshall (Atlantique Stade Rochelais, North Vancouver).
Canada Sevens standouts Sean Duke (UVic Vikes, Vancouver) and Nathan Hirayama (UVic Vikes, Richmond) are also named in the selection camp and are set to make their return to 15s duty after injury layoffs. The youngest players included in the roster are Canada U20 graduates Justin Douglas (Abbotsford RFC, Abbotsford) and James Pitblado (UVic Vikes, Vancouver).