By Ali Lee, Vikes Communications
VICTORIA, B.C. – It is the perfect match-up to open the 2015 BC Rugby and Vancouver Island Rugby Union season as the University of Victoria Vikes men’s rugby team will host island rivals James Bay on Sept. 19 in the first game towards their Barnard Cup quest. The Vikes will debut seven new starters, while 11 players from last year’s Barnard Cup Championship squad have graduated.
“This year we have a revamped back row,” describes Vikes assistant coach Rick Farrally. “This is really exciting for us as it has allowed us to play everyone in their most comfortable position.”
Last season the Vikes ended a five-year winning streak for the prestigious Barnard Cup, as men’s premier island champions. Head coach Doug Tate led the Vikes to a 35-17 victory over the Castaway Wanderers at Wallace Field on Nov. 29.
From that 2014-15 squad the Vikes boast key returnees Macbryan Bos, Casey Reed, Kevin Leaskand Jeff Nishima-Miller up front, while James Pitblado, Guiseppe duToit will fill the half back roles. The Vikes also return wing Crosby Stewart and fullback Fergus Hall.
“We should be faster and we must remember that all of these (returning) players now have another year under their belt of top-grade rugby,” said Farrally.
“James Bay is a great rivalry, historically, for the Vikes and this season will be no different. They are a hard, physical team with some skilled players.
Last season the Vikes faced James Bay three times and finished with a 2-1 record. Their loss to the Bays came early in the Fall 2014 season when James Bay scored a last-second try to win 34-30. The Vikes rebounded back throughout the season winning 27-19 on Oct. 4, 2014 and again, 29-20 in league play on Jan. 31, 2015.
“Many of our graduating players have gone to play for James Bay after they finished school with us, so that will obviously be a boost for (James Bay),” added Farrally.
The Vikes and Bays will kick-off at 2:45 p.m. at UVic’s Wallace Field on Sept. 19.