Trinity Western University’s men’s rugby team will host a D1A school for the first time in program history, as the Spartans welcome No. 13-ranked Central Washington University to the Langley Events Centre (Northwest Field) Friday at 6 p.m.
Feb. 14 vs. Central Washington University – Langley Events Centre | Northwest Field | 6 p.m. (PT)
The Spartans have won three games in a row, including wins over the University of Washington (36-31), the University of Oregon (41-19) and Western Washington University (24-0), but this Friday will mark TWU’s toughest test since taking on No. 4-ranked Saint Mary’s in early January.
Central Washington is a perennial power in D1A rugby in the United States, regularly featuring in the Top 15 across the country. The Wildcats are riding a three-game winning streak, including most recently earning a 110-3 victory over Gonzaga University. CWU’s early-season success has also seen the Wildcats beat Western Washington 66-3 and No. 14-ranked Arizona 32-28.
Friday’s contest is the first of a home-and-home series between the cross-border foes. TWU will travel to Ellensburg, Wash. for the rematch Mar. 28.
The Spartans will roll out Ben Graci (Edmonton) at loosehead prop and Scott Bowers (New Westminster, B.C.) at hooker, with Josh Halladay (White Rock, B.C.) getting the start at tighthead prop.
Mackenzie Nordli (Nanaimo, B.C.) moves from tighthead, where he has played throughout the season, to the second row, joining regular lock Nick Halladay (White Rock, B.C.).
Erik Niebuhr (Surrey, B.C.) will take over the captaincy and No. 8 role, with James Aalhus (Langley) getting his first start at blindside flanker opposite regular starting flanker Daniel Clement (Edmonton).
The backs will have a familiar look to Spartan fans, with Ethan Kelt (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) at scrumhalf and Keegan Marengo (Edenvale, South Africa) at flyhalf.
Markus Rauch (Abbotsford, B.C.) and Ethan Bernardin (Langley), who is back after missing TWU’s game against Western Washington, will patrol the wings, with Sam Wegert (Langley) and Nate Schroeder (West Kelowna, B.C.) once again at inside and outside centre. As has been the case throughout the year, Khyree Poole (El Cajon, Calif.) slots in at fullback.
The Spartans will be celebrating Black History Month throughout the evening. Go to www.gospartans.ca. to see a video featuring several TWU students and student-athletes, as they reflect on what Black History Month means to them.
- Ben Graci – Edmonton, Alta. | Nor’westers AA
- Scott Bowers – New Westminster, B.C. | Riverside
- Josh Halladay – White Rock, B.C.
- Nick Halladay – White Rock, B.C.
- Mackenzie Nordli – Nanaimo, B.C. | Nanaimo
- James Aalhus – Langley, B.C. | Langley Rugby Club
- Daniel Clement – Edmonton, Alta. | Edmonton Clansmen
- Erik Niebuhr (C) – Surrey, B.C. | Bayside Sharks
- Ethan Kelt – Port Coquitlam, B.C. | United Rugby Club
- Keegan Marengo – Edenvale, South Africa | Golden Lions
- Markus Rauch – Abbotsford, B.C. | Robert Bateman Secondary
- Sam Wegert – Langley, B.C. | R.E. Mountain
- Nate Schroeder – West Kelowna, B.C. | Mount Boucherie Secondary
- Ethan Bernardin – Langley, B.C. | R.E. Mountain Secondary
- Khyree Poole – El Cajon, Calif. | OMBAC Rugby
- JP O’Gorman – St. Charles, Miss. | Francis Howell Central
- Nate Lieuwen – Langley, B.C.
- Jordan Kirk – Surrey, B.C. | Pacific Academy
- Brian Carlson – Langley, B.C. | D.W. Poppy
- Ben Adkins – Nairobi, Kenya | Rift Valley Academy
- Jacob Sousa – Langley, B.C. | R.E. Mountain Secondary
- Tim Bamgbade – Surrey, B.C.
- Garrett Shepherd – El Dorado Hills, Calif. | Lindenwood University