VICTORIA – The University of Victoria is set to host the 2nd Annual Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship, Nov. 21-25, presented by title sponsors Victoria Mitsubishi and Carson Automotive Group and corporate sponsors Pemberton Holmes Ltd. and the Canadian Rugby Foundation. The six-team schedule includes Guelph Gryphons, Queen’s Gaels, UBC Thunderbirds, Victoria Vikes, Concordia Stingers and the University of New Brunswick Ironmen.
In last year’s inaugural tournament Guelph played hosts to six teams including returnees this year Victoria, UBC and Concordia, as well as McMaster and UPEI. The Thunderbirds won the tournament with a 37-12 win over Victoria, while McMaster earned bronze ahead of hosts Guelph.
The Queen’s Gaels enter this year’s championship undefeated with an 8-0 regular season record and winning the 2018 OUA banner after a 48-10 win over the Guelph Gryphons. Despite being OUA champions last year, the Gaels chose not to compete in the inaugural championship in 2017. Queen’s are led by 2018 OUA Coach of the Year David Butcher and all-stars Patrick Lynott, Lachlan Devir, Nicholas De Lallo, Brendan Blaikie and Tristan Ruse.
OUA runners-up Guelph finished with a 7-1 record this season, losing only to Queen’s, and finishing second at the OUA championship, also to the Gaels. The Gryphons had four OUA All-Stars in scrum half Riley DiNardo, second row Mackenzie Kea and back row players Andrew Douglas and Marcello Wainwright. DiNardo, Wainwright and teammate John Sheridan were all members of the Ontario Blues team that won the Mactier Cup this past August.
In the West, UBC enter as the top seed after the T-Birds toppled the Calgary Dinos 103-3 in a western qualifier and the Vikes qualified as hosts. Both UBC and Victoria also compete in the BC Rugby Premier League, competing against the province’s top senior men’s teams. The Thunderbirds are currently 5-2 in their premier league games, including a rivalry win over the Vikes, 45-26 as part of the Wightman Boot and Legends Cup series. UBC have a talented forward pack with good balance in positions including forwards James Carson, Cali Martinez and Jake Ikeda, while UBC backs Cole Keffer and Fraser Hurst will also be key.
Concordia will be the lone representatives from the RSEQ conference after the Stingers edged Bishop’s in the conference final by 22-20. The Stingers are led by Jonathan Banks who has 60 points (24 conversions and four penalty goals this season), while the team’s leading try scorer is Michael Laplaine-Pereira with five tries on the season. Concordia’s Lucas Hutton was a member of the 2018 Atlantic Rock, who finished second at the Canadian Rugby Championships.
The UNB RFC Ironmen will travel the furthest as they qualify as representatives from the Maritimes. The Ironmen faced off with St.FX for the lone berth and an impressive 39-0 win secured their spot. In their final Eric Duplessis had a hat trick, while Adam Cousins, Billy Hornaday and Mike Stewart had singles. Kyle Patterson had a drop goal, and Andrew Peppard went 3 for 6 on converts.
The tournament will be played at Wallace Field and Centennial Stadium.