By Jamie Umbach, Vikes Communications
VICTORIA, B.C. – The University of Victoria Vikes look to make it a perfect 9-0 in Barnard Cup action this season when they face Westshore RFC on Friday, Nov. 20 at Wallace Field. The Vikes have remained unbeaten throughout the entire season at 8-0 while Westshore is winless at 0-7.
The Vikes have already secured a place in the Barnard Cup Final on Dec. 5 at Centennial Stadium and will face either the James Bay Athletic Association or the Castaway Wanderers. Both teams will play their two final games against each other over the final two weekends to determine who will face the Vikes.
Westshore was five minutes away from breaking their slump on Nov. 7 against the Castaway Wanderers but conceded two tries in the final five minutes to lose 36-31 in disappointing fashion. Reversely, The Vikes stretched their streak to eight games on Nov. 14 with a 29-20 win over the Wanderers.
“(Westshore) came close in their last game, and you have to give them credit,” said Vikes men’s rugby head coach Doug Tate of his team’s opponents this weekend. “They’ve added some new players and they’re still pressing their opponents hard despite their slump. I’m expecting a good game and we’ve been playing well lately. The guys are keen to stay undefeated and bring home the Barnard Cup.”
A total of 28 players have seen action for the Vikes through eight games this season. With multiple players set to miss this Friday’s game due to injury, Tate’s regular rotation of his squad benefits the Vikes as they enter the final weekend of regular season play.
“It’s a long season when you factor in both halves,” said Tate, whose team travels to Australia from Feb. 4-14 in the new year prior to beginning competition in the BC Men’s Premier League. “It can be grueling. It was our goal to have as many players see first-team time this season as possible, and due to injuries we’ve been forced to shuffle around our line-up. It’s going to benefit us in the long run greatly.”
Both teams must prepare for the elements as conditions continue to become more unpredictable around the island. The slick conditions, which the Vikes have experienced over the past two weeks, can result in teams being forced to switch around their approach to games.
“A lot of the emphasis gets placed on kicking when conditions go south,” said Tate of tactical differences in rainy conditions. “It’s really important to have a solid back three and be smart with the ball. If you’re too reckless, it can cost you.”
Friday’s game against Westshore at Wallace Field kicks off at 7:00 p.m.