B.C. junior football’s most heated rivalry clearly isn’t limited to the playing field.
The Okanagan Sun is in the process of filing a grievance with the Canadian Junior Football League, accusing the rival Vancouver Island Raiders of tampering.
The Sun allege the Raiders violated league rules in the events leading up to the acquisition of receiver Mitchell Thompson, prior to the B.C. Football Conference’s transaction deadline on Sept. 15.
According to the Sun, Thompson told the team and GM Howie Zaron earlier this month he was homesick and wanted to return to Regina.
Zaron said he was willing to grant Thompson his release if he committed to a team in Saskatchewan—but not the Vancouver Island Raiders.
Instead of making his way back to Saskatchewan, Thompson ended up on the roster of the defending BCFC champs.
Under CJFL guidelines, a player cannot make contact or be contacted by another team before he is granted his release by his original club.
If that happens, the new team is required to inform the former club of any such contact.
While the Sun did issue Thompson his release, Zaron said the club has reason to believe it wasn’t until after the player had already contacted the Raiders.
“I’m not going to release a player who I know is going to go play for an arch rival, it just wouldn’t happen,” said Zaron. “It’s not the first time they’ve been accused of tampering, so rather than not do anything about it, it’s time for us to take a stand. We’ll see what happens.”
As for the Raiders, head coach and GM Matt Blokker insists any contact with the ex-Sun receiver was all above board and in line with CJFL rules.
Blokker told the Nanaimo Bulletin that his club didn’t tamper in Thompson’s case or in any other player transaction.
“It’s just accusations by a team that’s crying sour milk because they lost a good player,” Blokker said.
He added that he thanks the Sun because they “bring more entertainment to the BCFC.”
Thompson played in five games with the Sun and was fourth in receiving when he left the club.
In a separate incident, the Sun has filed a complaint with the B.C. Football Conference regarding the treatment of one of its players during the Sun’s 33-20 loss to the Raiders on Aug. 27 at Caledonia Park in Nanaimo.
Game highlights show Okanagan defensive back Brennan Van Nistelrooy being thrown to the ground at the back of the end zone by a fan who the Sun identify as a former general manager of the Raiders.
The play can be seen in the Raiders/Sun highlights package in the early stages of the second half at viraiders.ca.
The Raiders and Sun will renew their on-field rivalry on Sunday, Oct. 9 at the Apple Bowl in the final game of the regular season, one that will decide first place in the BCFC.