GUELPH, ON – The University of Guelph, Rugby Canada and the Canadian Rugby Foundation are pleased to jointly announce that the inaugural Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship will be held November 16th to 19th at the University of Guelph.
The Championship will feature teams from all four U SPORTS conferences (Canada West, OUA, RSEQ and AUS) and will have a six-team format with two pools of three teams playing on Thursday through Saturday, November 16-18 at Guelph’s Varsity Field, home of the Guelph Gryphons men’s and women’s rugby teams. Guelph will be one of the six teams in the tournament, either as the OUA Champions or as the host team. The bronze-medal match will be held in the University of Guelph’s Alumni Stadium on Sunday, November 19, followed by the gold-medal match to crown the first 21st century Champion of Canadian University Men’s Rugby.
“We are pleased to pick up an initiative dating back to the University of Victoria in the 1980’s and 1990’s to create a sustained and truly national Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship,” said Keith Labbett, a co-chair of the organizing committee with Jeff Chan. “We would like to thank all of the staff at the University of Guelph’s Department of Athletics for agreeing to host this exciting event and we hope that this will be the beginning of a great tradition.
“It’s not often there is an opportunity to be on the ground floor of an exciting championship event, and I anticipate the same kinds of success we enjoyed with the Canadian College Bowl Board–the Vanier Cup predecessor–from its early days,” added Chan.
“Rugby Canada recognizes Canadian university rugby as an important historical and continuing pathway to playing for the National Men’s Fifteens Team and are pleased to support this championship,” said Jim Dixon on behalf of Rugby Canada. “We believe the tournament will be a success and are very confident we will see numerous players achieve national team representation via this exciting competition. With the selection of many players from the tournament to the Canadian University XV, there is added incentive for players and universities to participate. Our national team staff are looking forward to the competition.”
Though the tournament is not officially recognized or sanctioned by U SPORTS, eligibility and format will adhere to existing U SPORTS rules (including academic and five-year maximum eligibility) and the organizing committee is hopeful that in time, both the tournament and the sport of men’s rugby will be sanctioned by U SPORTS in the same way as women’s rugby and its national championship.
“Rugby Canada is one of the top sport organizations in our country,” said Graham Brown, president and CEO of U SPORTS. “Growing the number of sports that have that opportunity to compete for a U SPORTS National Championship is an important part of my vision for elevating university sport in Canada. Although U SPORTS is not officially involved with this project, Rugby Canada has the support of U SPORTS and I anticipate the success of this event will be similar to the very successful National University Championships hosted by Tennis Canada and Golf Canada.”
“We are thrilled to be selected as the host site for the Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship,” said Scott McRoberts, Director of Athletics at the University of Guelph. “Our men’s rugby program has developed some great rivalries within our conference, but we cannot wait to see the talent from across the country. We really believe this tournament will be the start of something bigger.”