The BC Bears will kick off their Canadian Rugby Championships (CRC) title defence in just over two weeks when the 2018 tournament gets underway. Their opening matches are a doubleheader against Prairie Wolfpack, starting with an away leg in Calgary on July 27 and followed up with a home leg on August 3 at Klahanie Park in North Vancouver. This August fixture will be the only opportunity for fans to see the Bears play on BC soil, with the rest of the CRC tournament taking place back in Calgary later that month.
The Bears won the CRC last year in emphatic style, defeating the Ontario Blues 34-31 in the final and completing an undefeated run in the tournament. This victory was the Bears’ first since 2009, the first year of the CRC in its current format. Coincidentally, that first win was also an undefeated run through the tournament, showing that when the BC Bears are on form, they can be truly unstoppable.
Looking to get some valuable game time under their belts, the BC Bears have already had one outing this summer, taking on the British RAF at UBC in June. The team learned some solid lessons from the touring side and it was an opportunity to see both the potential this year’s team has, as well as areas to address before the CRC gets underway. The Canadian boys showed plenty of flair and pace in that game, but gave up too many penalties, keeping their opponents uncomfortably close as the game neared full-time. BC Rugby’s Senior Manager, Rugby Growth & Development, Dean Murten, reflected on that game saying, “We actually defended extremely well but we’ve really got to sort discipline out. We cannot give that amount of penalties away (this summer) that we did against the RAF”.
After the success of the 2017 tournament, a number of BC Bears players went on to play for the Men’s National XVs team in ther 2018 Americas Rugby Championships campaign (Guiseppe du Toit, Doug Fraser, Brock Staller, Phil Mack, Jake Ilnicki). Meanwhile, Aaron McLelland, Paul Ahn and Harjun Gill were all part of the UBCOB Ravens side that upset UBC Thunderbirds to win the Rounsefell Cup at Abbotsford in May and with it the 2018 BC Rugby Men’s Premier League title.
Since the Bears came out on top last year, there is a certain level of expectation to repeat this performance in 2018. “At the end of the day there is pressure put on us by ourselves,” Murten points out, “You never want to go win something and the following year you’re nowhere near contention for it. It’s about being consistent.” With a team announcement expected at the start of next week, it will be interesting to see the mix of new talent and experienced hands selected to defend the 2017 CRC title.
The BC Bears will play their only home match of this year’s CRC tournament at Klahanie Park on August 3, kick-off at 7pm (PT).
BC Bears CRC Schedule
July 27, 7:00pm CST/6:00pm PT – BC Bears vs Prairie Wolfpack – Calgary Rugby Park
August 3, 7:00pm PT – BC Bears vs Prairie Wolfpack – Klahanie Park
August 23, 5:00pm CST/4:00pm PT – Semi Final 1 – Calgary Rugby Park
August 23, 7:00pm CST/6:00pm PT – Semi Final 2 – Calgary Rugby Park
August 26, 12:00pm CST/11:00am PT – Third Place – Calgary Rugby Park
August 26, 2:00pm CST/1:00pm PT – Final – Calgary Rugby Park