Rugby League fans in Western Canada will be in Kelowna this summer to watch the first-ever International rugby league match between Canadian and U.S. teams.
History will be made when the B.C. Bulldogs and the Utah Avalanche play an international home and away series, with the first match scheduled for Aug. 18 in Kelowna.
The Utah Avalanche team, a member of the American National Rugby League, and the BC Bulldogs, member of Canadian Rugby League, will compete for the inaugural Western Challenge Cup series. The Okanagan Valley will host the first of two games with the return clash to be played in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Utah has a big, strong and very quick squad made up of an entertaining mix of Polynesians, New Zealanders and Australians. They play a hard and fast-paced game that will entertain the expected large crowd.
The B.C. Bulldogs come fresh off the completion of their first B.C. Championship domestic league.
The provincial team will be selected in late July, in readiness for the August international.
George Tupou, coach of the Utah Avalanche, has over 20 years experience playing and coaching in Manly, Australia.
He launched the Utah Avalanche last year with the focus on expanding the great game of rugby league to the US West Coast.
“We have lots of standout players coming to Kelowna,” said George. “Aaron Thompson from New Zealand playing half back has over 20 years of league experience; Teki Nau is a hard running and tackling front rower with a rugby union background; Brian Jensen is an ex-line backer known for his hard running and tackling; and Josh Olschewski is a MMA fighter who has converted to rugby league easily with a very good running style. One of our key threats will be Chance Williams, who is a devastating attacking player who finds the try line very frequently. We are ready for the challenge”.
Andy Blackburn, coach of B.C. Bulldogs, is excited at the opportunity to showcase the quality of Rugby League players in British Columbia. He expects an intense game.
“B.C. players will work on various combinations during trial games over the next month as we prepare for the huge battle against our USA rivals,” said Blackburn We expect plenty of supporters out at the Kelowna game. Our players will be excited to show Canadian Rugby League selectors at the game that our BC guys can produce in a big game atmosphere. This is a huge game for Rugby League in British Columbia.”
Kick-off scheduled for 3 p.m. at the Apple Bowl on Aug. 18.
The Central Okanagan Rugby Enthusiasts (CORE) will host the game as part of their Okanagan Summer Rugby Festival.
‘This is the second major rugby match hosted in Kelowna by CORE. Eight-hundred people attended the Canadian Rugby Championship match between the BC Senior Men and the Prairie Wolf Pack last summer.
Early bird tickets can be purchased by emailing Doug Manning email@example.com.
Tickets can also be purchased at the gate. All game proceeds go towards the support of youth rugby development in the Central Okanagan.