By Jamie Umbach, Vikes Communications
VICTORIA, B.C. – The University of Victoria Vikes men’s rugby team continues their quest for the Barnard Cup in Langford, B.C. this weekend, Oct. 31, against Westshore RFC. The Vikes are 5-0 so far in this season, continuing their unbeaten streak most recently, Oct. 24, with a 36-22 win over the Castaway Wanderers. Westshore has yet to find the win column this season and sits at the bottom of the Barnard Cup standings (0-5).
Vikes first year eight-man Bhiamie Williamson scored a pair of tries in the victory over Castaway, while first-year outside half Grady Bowd contributed in every offensive category with a try, two conversions and a penalty kick.
In their last meeting, Sept. 26, the Vikes blasted Westshore, winning 77-24. But the Vikes can’t look too much into the result ahead of their rematch this weekend as it is common for teams to change and improve their line ups as the season rolls on.
“Teams are getting bigger and stronger with more players coming to the island from Alberta and other parts of Canada,” said Vikes men’s rugby assistant coach Rick Farrally on the unpredictability of any team’s roster on a given weekend. “We are a target for every team in the league right now. Everyone likes to play us and try to put us off our game.”
The Vikes had a strong opening 60 minutes in their last game against the Castaways, up 29-5 in the early get-going, but were out-scored 17-7 in the second half.
“We had a lapse in the last 20 minutes of our game against Castaway, and so this week we really need to focus on our forwards practicing lineouts and scrums,” added Farrally. “We struggled in that department, so there’s much we can improve this week ahead of our Westshore clash.”
The Vikes will continue to switch around the back row to give more players first team experience. A different number of injuries will force a rotation in a number of positions for the Vikes.
A total of six changes will be made to the Vikes lineup that defeated Castaway last weekend, including the return of eight-man Luke Bradley after a stint in Australia with the Canada Sevens side.
It’s been a strong season so far for the Victoria Vikes on both the men and women’s sides of rugby. After already being motivated by a 5-0 start, the Vikes men can channel the excitement of the Vikes women taking home the 2015 Canada West Championship on Oct. 25. The Vikes women defeated the Alberta Pandas in the semifinals 26-20 before thrashing the Lethbridge Pronghorns 50-17 in the final, earning the Vikes women their first Canada West championship in program history.
“It’s a truly historic achievement for the Vikes program,” added Farrally. “(Brittany Waters) has a fantastic team over there, and hopefully we can continue our performance to match their success. It’s an exciting time for Vikes rugby.”
The Vikes remain on the road the weekend after, Nov. 7, against James Bay Athletic Association before returning to Centennial Stadium for another game under the lights against Castaway on Nov. 13.