Saturday is one of rugby madness for the University of Victoria Vikes.
The school’s men’s and women’s rugby programs will field a total of six different teams.
Canadian Sevens player of the year Sean Duke will lead the Vikes’ men’s sevens team into the second annual National University Rugby Sevens Championship in Langford, Friday (March 2) and Saturday.
Meanwhile back at UVic on Saturday, the Vikes host their regular fixtures in the B.C. Rugby Union’s CDI Premier League against Oak Bay’s Castaway Wanderers, Div. 1 at 1 p.m. and premiers at 2:45 p.m. at Wallace Field.
The Vikes “10 best players (suited to the sevens game)” will try to defend the school’s University 7s championship from 2011. The 7s tourney is one of the first of many national-level rugby events that will take place in Langford thanks to Rugby Canada’s home there.
The Vikes women’s program is just as busy, if not busier, as it’s entering two sevens teams into the tourney and is also hosting United (Coquitlam) at Wallace Field in the Women’s Adidas Premiership, 11:30 a.m. on Saturday.
“We’ll probably bring two sevens players from Langford on Saturday back to Wallace Field (UVic) to play against Castaway Wanderers, possibly Mike Fuailefau, to play against his home club, and someone to do the kicking, maybe (fly half) Patrick Kay,” Vikes men’s coach Doug Tate said.
For the first time in years the Vikes are on the outside of the CDI Premier League playoffs, without much chance of getting in.
As well, the way it looks now the premier league is leaning towards a new format for the 2012-13 season. The current eight-team setup will carry on, starting right from September, with a relegation and promotion system swapping out the last place team or bottom two teams.
“Certainly if it goes that way, we want to stay in the premier league,” Tate said. “We can use some wins. We’ve lost three on the last play of the game. We could be 4-3 (instead of 1-6). But we’re a young team, especially up front.”
After four glorious seasons (including a provincial championship) as the home club for two-thirds of the Canadian national team’s starting front row, Pat Riordan and Andrew Tiedemann, as well as Toby Peyton, all three have graduated the Vikes.
It’s an irreplaceable trio that, for a club team, was among the better front rows in the world. Not too mention around 700 pounds of high-performance rugby.
“This weekend is an opportunity for (our 15s) guys who haven’t had a shot at the premier yet. We’ve had lots of guys knocking on the door and now they are finally getting that chance.
“The guys will be well motivated.”
As for the Sevens, this year the tournament has added the women’s bracket, with the University of British Columbia, the University of Guelph and UBC-Okanagan jumping in against the two Vikes teams.
Play begins at 10 a.m. Friday at Bear Mountain Stadium, part of the brand new Canadian Rugby Centre of Excellence. The tourney’s medal rounds go Saturday afternoon, with the shield, bowl, plate and cup finals running from 4 to 6:30 p.m.
CDI Premier League men: Vikes vs. Castaway Wanderers, 1 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. Wallace Field.
CDI Premier League men: James Bay Athletic Association vs. Capilano, 1 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. MacDonald Park.
Women’s Adidas Premiership: Vikes vs. Coquitlam’s United, 11:30 a.m. Wallace Field.