VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds men’s varsity rugby team will host the Cal Bears this Sunday in the second leg of the storied World Cup competition at Vancouver’s Thunderbird Stadium. Named after the Vancouver World newspaper, the home-and-away series is determined by aggregate scoring.
1:00pm, Sun. March 22nd, Cal Bears at UBC Thunderbirds (Thunderbird Stadium, Vancouver)
Current title holders UBC are fresh off their first away win at Witter Rugby Field in over a decade, having held the Bears try-less on their home field on February 7th. The decisive 19-6 result means the ‘Birds will have a 13-point advantage heading into Sunday’s clash.
The Bears are coming off a 106-0 win over Santa Clara University last weekend and have welcomed back co-Captain Alex Gletzer to their lineup. Cal will be looking for a strong showing against UBC before heading into their regular season finale against St. Mary’s on March 28 in Strawberry Canyon.
“Cal is the kind of team that can hurt you both in the forwards and in the backs. We have to be prepared to meet them with the same athleticism,” said UBC Head Coach Rameses Langston. “Cal plays with their own brand of rugby and it doesn’t matter who their opponent is. They won’t make many mistakes and will be a physical side.”
UBC are currently top of BC’s Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League and in January successfully defended back-to-back Wightman Boot titles against Canadian university rivals Uvic Vikes. The ‘Birds lifted the Las Vegas Invitational College 7s title in February and recently finished as runner-ups at the Canadian University Sevens in March. The program has faired well in recent weeks despite juggling roster assignments due to national team call ups and injuries to key players.
“We are always ready for games like this,” added Langston. “If you are doing the right things with your program, it doesn’t matter who is in and out of the lineup as it shouldn’t affect you playing at the highest level. A lot of credit has to go to our coaches Luke Gray, Curry Hitchborn and Dave Brown for what he’s done managing the program. Because of the pieces we have in place, we see this as an opportunity for a number of guys to be given chances to rise to the challenge.”
On Saturday night, before the Thunderbirds host their American rivals on the field, UBC Rugby will be recognizing a figure who spent years squaring off against the Bears as a player and a coach. Spence McTavish, more commonly referred to as ‘Spike’ in rugby circles, retired this past summer before handing the reigns over to Langston and his staff. The new coaching team, players and alumni are keen to recognize him at a formal event on Saturday, March 21st.
“I would compare Spike’s influence on our program to what Coach Jack Clark has done with the Bears at Cal. No matter who comes into their programs, they will have left lasting impressions,” Langston added. “Spike is UBC Rugby. No matter who comes here, we are able to see the influence of his legacy. We are looking forward to recognizing what he has done for UBC Rugby.”
An Evening to Honour Spence McTavish:
The formal dinner to honour Spence McTavish and his massive contribution to the UBC Rugby Program will be held on Saturday, March 21st at UBC Golf Club. Tickets will be $150.00 and can be purchased online HERE.