VICTORIA – The 11th Annual Vikes Championship Breakfast is set to hit the CARSA Performance Gym floor on Sept. 25. Former University of Victoria Vikes and Canadian men’s rugby icon Gareth Rees will bring the keynote address.

The Vikes Championship Breakfast is the largest fundraiser in support of UVic varsity student-athletes and began in 2008. Support is directed to athletic scholarships that allow the Vikes to continue pursuing national championship success and international recognition, with the ability to regularly recruit the best and brightest to UVic.

“Our Vikes Championship Breakfast is all about bringing together our alumni and community in supporting our Vikes student-athletes,” said Clint Hamilton, Director of Vikes Athletics and Recreation. “It is always terrific when we can have one of our highly accomplished alumni speak at the event and we are pleased and grateful that Gareth Rees has agreed to deliver the keynote at next September’s event.   Gareth is a highly accomplished, world-class sport leader whom I know to be a passionate supporter of UVic. I have no doubt he will bring an inspiring message to our breakfast audience.”

Rees is a product of the Victoria rugby community. He attended St. Michael’s University School and played for the Castaway Wanderers. In 1986, while at UVic, Rees played for head coach Dave Docherty in a victory over Wales Juniors and featured on the Canadian senior men’s team against the United States later that season. He earned the distinction of being Canada’s first player to earn caps at the junior and senior level in the same year.

Rees led Canada to four World Cup tournaments, a feat never before accomplished by another international rugby player. At the 1999 Rugby World Cup he made all 19 attempts at goal and retired from international play with 492 points in 55 appearances and was named Canada’s all-time leading point’s scorer. Rees was part of the backbone for Team Canada for 14 years and was the first Canadian inducted into the IRB World Rugby Hall of Fame (2011) and the first and only rugby player in Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (2014). Rees was a part of the inaugural UVic Sports Hall of Fame class in 2002 and has also been inducted in to the BC Sports Hall of Fame, BC Rugby Hall of Fame and the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame.

Rees believes passionately that the values gained playing university rugby have served him throughout his life and his relationships with fellow Vikes are crucial to life off the playing field. To this day, he works to insure current young men and women embrace this opportunity.

“I have discovered over the years how exceptional the support I received at UVIC was,” said Rees. “I was well prepared to face the diverse challenges of my post graduate studies at Oxford as well as the rigours of playing and coaching at the pinnacle of European professional rugby. Off the field, I continue to draw on the lessons learned at UVic and I am privileged that my closest Friends in this world are fellow alums.”

Rees completed his Masters at Keble College, Oxford in England and starred in the top European professional rugby leagues in France, England and Wales, winning multiple championships and scoring titles along the way. Rees returned to Victoria several years ago with his wife and two sons and is currently Director of Commercial and Program Relations at Rugby Canada.

“Gareth has had a real impact on Canadian Rugby with his involvement as an outstanding player at every level he played and all his current work with Rugby Canada,” noted current Vikes men’s rugby head coach Doug Tate. “He has a great passion for the game and since his days at UVic Gareth has really tried to help young players reach their potential”.

To date the Championship Breakfast has raised over $4.4 million to support Vikes student-athletes. All proceeds from the breakfast support student-athlete scholarships, with 75 per cent directed to the current fiscal year and 25 per cent dedicated to Vikes endowments. Support can be directed to specific varsity programs or to the Vikes General Fund. The University of Victoria generously provides $200,000 in matching funds in support of Vikes student athletes.