By Elizabeth Chan, Vikes Communications
(ISN) – VICTORIA – The University of Victoria Vikes men’s rugby team are looking to defend their National University Sevens Championship title for the fourth time since the inauguration of the tournament in 2011. Hosted by Rugby Canada, the championship is set to take place at Westhills Stadium in Langford, B.C., from Mar. 6-7.
Each year, Rugby Canada gives the best teams from coast to coast a chance to showcase their rising talent. This tournament provides a platform for young players to be recognized by the host’s high performance staff and have selection opportunity for Canada’s national team.
“The teams will be good,” said Doug Tate, Vikes men’s rugby head coach. “UBC has vastly improved in the last year and they recently won in Vegas. They’re also good at keeping possession at kick off. McMaster and Queens are the strongest teams from the east.”
Last year, the Vikes captured a huge 24-19 victory over UBC to hoist the coveted championship cup, marking it their third time winning the tournament. UVic surrendered the championship title once, in 2012, to the McMaster Marauders, but will be set to extend their winning streak to three, for four titles overall, after wins in 2011, 2013 and 2014.
“The games will be fast-paced and on turf the ball bounces differently,” explains Tate. “But we are speed-savvy and we have a lot of fourth years who will bring experience to the team.”
The Vikes boast a roster with previous national university rugby sevens experience. Returning to the championship for the fourth time are fullback Kane Wyatt and winger Luke McCloskey.
Senior Dustin Dobravsky, fourth-year flanker Nathan Stewart, third-year centre Doug Fraser and second-years scrum half James Pitblado, fullback Fergus Hall and winger Crosby Stewart have also competed in the tournament before. Team Canada veteran Lucas Hammond will also be competing for the Vikes this year.
UVic will have a second set of players competing in the championship. Leading the second pool of younger Vikes are fourth-year lock Shea Wakefield and third-year flanker Robbie Anderson. Cathal Long, Gavin Rowell and Jack Nyren are among those who will be getting their first taste of the championship. The two Vikes teams will be in the mix with 12 other teams from across the country.
“This championship will be big for the boys as they’ve been working hard toward it,” added Tate.
The Vikes will be forced to compete without key contributors Guiseppe duToit, Oliver Nott and Luke Bradley who are all at training camp for Canada’s U20 Team. Stalwarts Pat Kay and Sean Duke are also away with international commitments in Fiji.
Games get underway from 9 a.m. to 4.45 p.m. on Friday with live streaming of the tournament available at rugbycanada.tv. Crossover play continues on Saturday with the Cup Final set for 18:00 and the Plate Final slated for 15:18. Tickets for all games will be available at the stadium.
1. Jeff Nishma-Miller
2. Isaac Kaay
3. Doug Fraser
4. Nathan Stewart
5. Dustin Dobravsky
6. Joseph Erlic
7. James Pitblado
8. Crosby Stewart
9. Lucas Hammond
10. Fergus Hall
11. Kane Wyatt
12. Luke McCloskey
1. Sawyer Herron
2. Robbie Anderson
3. Shea Wakefield
4. Jonathan Lorimer
5. Liam Chisholm
6. Cathal Long
7. Morgan Tate
8. Connor Liewellyn
9. David Morgan
10. Kaprieli Vataiki
11. Gavin Rowell
12. Jack Nyren
Friday, Mar. 6 Schedule
9:00 a.m. UVic Team 1 vs Calgary
11:34 a.m. UVic Team 1 vs Waterloo
14:08 p.m. UVic Team 1 vs Saskatchewan
National University Rugby 7s Champions
2011 – University of Victoria Vikes
2012 – McMaster University
2013 – University of Victoria Vikes
2014 – University of Victoria Vikes