Vikes men’s rugby vs. UBC Thunderbirds (Gerald McGavin Rugby Pavilion, Vancouver, B.C.)
By Jamie Umbach, Vikes Communications
VICTORIA – Next stop, Vancouver.
The CDI Premier League’s two varsity sides are set to meet in a rematch of last year’s final on Apr. 23 when the University of Victoria Vikes men’s rugby team travels to Vancouver to take on the UBC Thunderbirds in the playoff semifinals.
“(UBC) is a fast, athletic side who’s strong with their kicks and on defence,” said Vikes head coach Doug Tate. “If we concede penalties around our goal, they can make us pay for it. If they get an early lead on us, they’re better suited to hold off pressure late in the game.”
The Vikes erased an early 17-point lead for the UBCOB Ravens in the quarter-finals to earn a spot in the semifinals against their pacific rivals. Third-year Vike Crosby Stewart was the catalyst for the comeback by scoring on his second effort off an 80-yard run and setting up another try for his side in the 38-27 victory.
Despite the win, there were lessons to be learnt for the Vikes this past Saturday. Another slow start could cost them against a much stronger side like UBC, who has dangerous players on all sides of the pitch.
The T-Birds took the early lead and never looked back in the most recent matchup between these two sides, taking a 24-8 lead into half-time. The Vikes pushed back but couldn’t overturn the deficit, eventually losing the game 37-30.
With the return of third-year centre Joseph Erlic from injury and fourth-year lock Liam Chisholm from national team duty, it seems the Vikes are returning to full strength just in time for their biggest match of the year.
“Both teams haven’t seen each other in 15’s since January, and each side has a different look about them since that time,” said Tate.
The matchup will take place at the Gerald McGavin Rugby Pavilion’s brand-new grass field as opposed to the T-Birds’ traditional home of Ken Woods Field. Kick-off is set for 2:45 p.m.