Sports

Historic rugby match coming to Kelowna Saturday

Team BC captain Eric Wilson is among the players that are coming to Kelowna this weekend for a rugby match between Team BC and Alberta. - Contributed
Team BC captain Eric Wilson is among the players that are coming to Kelowna this weekend for a rugby match between Team BC and Alberta.
— image credit: Contributed

History will be made this weekend at the Apple Bowl as the first ever Canadian Rugby Championship to be played in the Central Okanagan will take place on Saturday between Team B.C. and the Prairie Wolf Pack.

The B.C. Senior Men's Provincial Rugby team will play host to the Prairie Wolf Pack at the Apple Bowl on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

Included on the Team B.C. roster will be Kelowna Crows rugby player Liam Chisholm.

It's the first time since 1970 that Kelowna will host a rep level rugby match. The last time Kelowna rugby fans were treated to a rep match was on May 23, 1970, when the Vancouver Rugby Union President's XV hosted a touring English Middlesex side at City Park. The game featured well-known players including Welsh full back JPR Williams and BC Rugby Hall of Famer Spence McTavish.

Now high level rugby is back in Kelowna.

"The players are really looking forward to playing at the Apple Bowl and we are honoured that the local community have pulled together to make this exciting event happen," said B.C. head coach Kris de Scossa.

The BC Senior Men are currently sitting with a 1-1 record after downing defending champs The Rock 43-19 before falling to the Ontario Blues 46-21. The Wolf Pack, runners up in the 2010 CRC, are also currently sporting a 1-1 record. De Scossa has named a 22-man roster that he says will match the level of intensity the Wolf Pack will bring on Saturday.

"The Wolf Pack are a talented side with a very strong front row," said De Scossa. "They have fast, effective backs who cover well and capitalize on their opportunities."

"This team has taken the glory, and they have taken the knocks," said De Scossa. "It will always be the performance that counts in this championship. Our performance in our opening game was near the mark, and our next match was below the mark. We have addressed those areas in training and look forward to performing at a higher level again."

Tickets for the match are $20 with kids 10 and under getting in for free.

***

A mix of young and old will hit the field for the Kelowna Crows this weekend as rugby takes centre stage at the Apple Bowl with a pair of high level games.

The Crows will take on the B.C. first division champion Burnaby Lake Rugby Club on Saturday (12:30 p.m.) as a curtain raiser for the Canadian Rugby Championship game between the B.C. Senior Men’s team and the Prairie Wolf Pack.

Kelowna will field an experienced side with a great mix of youth rep players and savvy local veterans.

Kaleb Myers was a starting prop for the U18 BC side one year ago and he’ll share the front row with hooker Jacob Illichmann and fellow prop Shawn Hamilton. The ‘engine room’ at second row will be manned by Chris Hill and Brendan Murtaugh with captain Dan Illichmann sharing back row duties with Evan Crocker and Josh Zieske.

The back line will be led by scrumhalf Judah Campbell, who impressed the selectors at the Canadian University Sevens Championships in the spring.

He’ll work with fly half Richard Schouten and centers Dan Blasco and Trevor Phelps to drive the attack through the backfield. Fleet footed Dan Haynes and Joab Campbell will start on the wings, with David James Pauls at fullback.

“We have put together a solid squad for this game,” said coach Rob O’Brien. “We have a number of talented young players who are capable of playing rugby at a higher level and these young guys want to prove to the selectors in the stands that they deserve to be looked at for a shot at the BC team.”

The Burnaby Lake Rugby Club won the first division crown in B.C. this year, winning a thriller over James Bay 10 – 8 at Klahanie Park.

“Burnaby is bringing up a solid group of players for this game. They will be using this game as a key warm up for their season. This is not a game either team wants to lose,” said O'Brien who added the game could be a kick-off to a new era of rugby for the local men’s team.

“The Kelowna Men’s Team has partnered with the new UBC Okanagan rugby program and this will draw quality players from around the world into our region. Our club is fully committed to pushing Kelowna rugby to the next level of competition.  This game is the start of the new growth and development for our club.  It is an exciting time to be part of Kelowna Rugby.”

Kick-off for the Kelowna Crows vs Burnaby Lake game is 12:30 at the Apple Bowl on Saturday, August 13.  The Canadian Rugby Championship match follows at 2:30 p.m.

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