A British Forces Team Rich in History and Tradition Travels to BC

    The world’s oldest air force carries its history and tradition to UBC this Saturday to play BC’s best rugby players.

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    The RAF Rugby Union Team visiting the Calgary Bomber Command Museum. (Courtesy of RAF Rugby Union)

    A testament to Canada’s bond to the commonwealth, the British RAF rugby team takes its centenary tour to UBC, Saturday, June 23rd, to take on BC’s best players. The RAF Rugby Union Team is a tradition as old as the force itself, exactly 100 this year. Formed towards the end of the First World War in 1918, the RAF rugby team was created almost immediately after. They won their first Inter-Services title in 1922. The RAF compete against the other armed forces rugby teams, professional club teams, and universities in the UK. This year, they won their first Inter-Services title since 2015. There is great interest for Inter-Services matches in the UK among the forces community, among both serving and retired members.

    Aside from many players famous for their service, including the likes of Sir Douglas Bader, many have gained fame for their rugby exploits on a national level. A notable example of this is Rory Underwood, who played wing for England from 1984-1996. He appeared 85 times for England and became the country’s all-time leading try scorer.

    Rugby tours also give the RAF players a chance to bond and develop the teamwork skills necessary to perform their jobs in the air force. The fit for the military and air force are perfect says RAF Forwards’ Coach, Justin Coleman:

    “Being involved in the military takes both mental and physical strength. It is a job that requires a person to know themselves and their body extremely well and to use that knowledge to push themselves to their limits. Rugby tours and being deployed are very similar. When you have a group of people in the best physical shape of their lives, who are extremely hard working, competitive, and smart, it is the perfect environment for sports teams”.

    The RAF Rugby Union tours roughly once every three years, frequently travelling to Australia, New Zealand and other Commonwealth countries. The last time the RAF came to Canada was in 1995 when the team played games against Ontario and Toronto.

    In the opening match of their tour, the RAF mounted a stunning comeback to win 30-26 in a closely contested match against Prairie Wolfpack in Calgary.  They will now go on to face a  Canadian Defence Force side in Edmonton.  The opportunity for the BC Bears to be part of this year’s RAF tour is a great honour.  As the current Canadian Rugby Championship title holders, the BC Bears will aim to present the visiting side with a physical and challenging match to wrap up their tour in Vancouver.

    The game kicks off on Saturday, June 23rd, at UBC’s Gerald McGavin Rugby Centre, kickoff is set for 1pm.  Tickets for the event will be available at the venue and cost just $10 per adult. Children under 12, as well as High School students with valid ID, get in free of charge.

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