UBCOB Ravens will represent the Province of BC in this weekend’s inaugural Canadian Rugby Club Championships, taking place on October 5 and 7 at Klahanie Park on Vancouver’s North Shore. The Ravens will compete alongside Fredericton Loyalists (New Brunswick), Brantford Harlequins (Ontario) and Edmonton Nor’Westers (Alberta) to determine the top Senior Men’s Club team in the country. Tickets are $20 for adults for a single day, $30 for a 2-day tournament pass, and students (under 19) with ID receive free admission.
Clubs earned the right to compete in this newly establish tournament by being the reigning champions of their respective Provincial leagues. The Ravens were amongst the first to secure their sports, defeating three-time defending champions UBC Thunderbirds at the BC Rugby Club Finals in Abbotsford back in May of this year.
Speaking with James Thompson, Director of Rugby at UBCOB Ravens, it was easy to sense the significance of this weekend’s climactic matches for both the players and club as a whole. “For the older guys around the club, you can sense the excitement and desire to win this competition. The classic “back in my day…” lines are coming out thick and fast, but I suppose it’s a chance for this group of players to cement their own place in the Ravens history books”.
Clinching the Rounsefell Cup (awarded to the winner of the Men’s Premier League in BC each year) was already a historic point for the Ravens in 2018, with their last victory in the men’s top tier of rugby in BC coming in the 1993-94 season. This was a rich period for the Ravens, with a dozen players hailing from the club representing Canada in the 1991 and 1995 Rugby World Cups including the likes of Norm Hadley, John Graf, Scott Stewart, Eddie Evans and Winston Stanley to name a few.
There is a good deal of nervous anticipation coming into this weekend’s fixtures, and not simply because this is the first time many of these clubs will have faced opponents from outside of their home Provinces. Due to the different timings of seasons across the country, some teams are coming to the end of a full season, while the Ravens are just getting back into gear after a long summer break. “There is no doubt that all the other teams will certainly be a lot further ahead of us in regards to the development of their patterns and plays,” says Thompson, “but I know the legs tend to be a bit heavier and injuries mount up at the end of a season”. Either way, the number of unknown elements that each side is facing makes this event a tantalizing prospect for spectators and players alike.
When asked about the general mood around the club in the buildup to Friday’s game, Thompson struck a positive note. “Excited is probably one word that I could use. For many players, a chance to represent BC was an ambitious goal, but to be able to do this in a Ravens shirt will make it extra special. A lot of the senior guys are the coaches of the junior section, so I know both young and old Ravens will be out supporting and helping us bring home the trophy”.
Though this is a Club Championship, Provincial camaraderie is well evidenced in the various online forums ahead of this weekend’s games. Thompson was keen to acknowledge the encouragement the Ravens have been receiving, mentioning “The messages of support and well wishes we have received from other clubs and players across BC has been humbling. The BC rugby community is big, but a close-knit one and I just want to say on behalf of the entire club, ‘thank-you and we hope that we can bring home the trophy for all of BC Rugby Clubs’.”
The weekend’s action is being hosted by Capilano Rugby Club at their magnificent grounds at Klahanie Park no Vancouver’s North Shore. Teams will take part in Semi-Final games on Friday, October 5th, with the Consolation and Final matches taking place on Sunday, October 7th. Single day tickets for adults are just $20, with a tournament pass for both days costing just $30. Children under 19 (with valid ID) get in free of charge. Action from both days will be streamed live (details TBC).