Rugby internationals coming to Victoria

Rugby Canada to host Americas Rugby Championship in Langford, it’ll thrive, said Mike Chu, Rugby Canada general manager of operation

Hooker Ryan Hamilton (UVic Vikes) and centre Mike Scholz (Castaway Wanderers) from the national men’s rugby team hope to represent Canada in the Americas Rugby Championship.

Twickenham, Bear Mountain Stadium is not.

But the artificial turf field is undeniably Canada’s home for rugby, new and all, and its about to host six major International Board Rugby tests as the Americas Rugby Championship comes to town Oct. 12 to 20.

The men’s 15s tournament won’t just survive out of Bear Mountain Stadium in Langford, it’ll thrive, said Mike Chu, Rugby Canada general manager of operation.

“The seats are close to the field and it’s international rugby in an intimate setting. The community is excited and supportive and we can’t wait to fill all 2,800 seats.”

That’s 2,800 seats, with added bleachers. Not the 82,000 of England’s Twickenham, but hey, it’s a start.

Included in the Americas championship are Canada, ranked 13th in the world, U.S.A. (17), Uruguay (21st) and the favourite, Argentina (eighth), which was originally planning to host the tournament.

The round robin tourney will happen with two matches a day on three separate occasions, Oct. 12, 16 and 20.

It’s a crucial stage in the development of Canada’s domestic players as they campaign for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England, said coach Kieran Crowley.

“Each team will have its country’s best non-professional players and many of them we’ll see at the 2015 RWC.”

Locally, the size of the event also serves to raise rugby’s profile, a reminder of the Canadian tax dollars invested in the Rugby Canada Centre of Excellence, also situated at Bear Mountain Stadium.

“It’s a great vote of confidence from the IRB to get this tournament. They hold strict guidelines around their standards,” Crowley said.

Coincidently, Crowley offered his own vote of confidence.

The former New Zealand All Black affirmed his commitment to lead Rugby Canada to the 2015 RWC, something that was in question earlier this summer. Reports from New Zealand listed Crowley as a finalist for the head coaching job of New Zealand’s Auckland Blues, which compete in the elite Super Rugby 15. The team hired another former All Black, the great John Kirwan.

“That was just a sign that at some stage I would like to go back to New Zealand, but that’s all it was,” Crowley said. “I’m here for the next four years.”

Looking ahead to the ARC, talk centres on Argentina. It’s no secret Argentina has been a major target of the IRB’s growth plan in recent years. This summer Argentina was added to the Tri Nations rugby championship, now known simply as the Rugby Championship, against superpowers South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. Thusly Argentina will send a secondary squad to Victoria, but one that will be strong enough to win it all. Uruguay and U.S.A. will be in the same situation as Canada, using its top domestic players.

One significant factor for Canada is the turf. It’s one of the few IRB sanctioned artificial turfs used in international play. More importantly, it’s the home training ground of Rugby Canada.

“We welcome the (other teams) and everything, and not to be cliche, but it’s our home,” national team hooker Ryan Hamilton said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Wet’suwet’en supporters protest police action in Victoria

Protesters say at least 14 were arrested by police overnight

High-rise hotel proposed for downtown Victoria location

A 15-storey hotel could be coming to the Fort and Blanshard streets area

Advocates call hospital parking fees a ‘shakedown’ after learning most Island tickets are waived

Victoria General and Royal Jubilee hospitals among the most ticketed on the Island

Consumer bankruptcies down in Greater Victoria

More residents are making alternative arrangements to settle their debts

Restrictions on unrelated occupants dominates Saanich council meeting

Saanich council sends issue of unrelated occupancy limits to public hearing

VIDEO: Trudeau insists Iran respect families’ wishes when it comes to burials

All 176 people on board the Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 were killed

Horgan unveils B.C. cabinet shuffle changes

Premier John Horgan has made three major changes to his cabinet

Dog reunited with Tofino owner, months after being taken from beach

Shannon Boothman ‘ecstatic’ at pet’s return after a tip leads to social media search

B.C.’s first ride-hailing app to launch in Tofino, Whistler in February

The Whistle! app will be available in Tofino on Feb.1 and in Whistler Feb. 6.

Councillor resigns in Revelstoke after colleagues approved 67% raise

Council approved a 134 per cent raise for the mayor of Revelstoke

Rolled-over dairy truck in Abbotsford lost 40,000 litres of milk

Truck removed Sunday, Jan. 19, with specialized equipment to upright vehicle

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. premier talks forestry, service needs with handful of northern mayors in Prince George

Prince George meeting completes premier’s tour of Kitimat, Terrace, Fort St. James and Quesnel

Most Read