Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - Submitted by Andrew Smith - BC Rugby Communcations
CRC kicks off August 10th in Vancouver, BC
The fifth annual Canadian Rugby Championship gets underway this August and the two-time defending champions Ontario Blues will be looking for a rare three-peat in the elite domestic senior men's competition. The seven-week tournament will once again serve as a scouting ground for national team selectors as Rugby Canada prepares for its entry to the America's Rugby Championship in Langford in October.
"We know other teams are all improved and obviously will be out to knock us off," said Blues Manager Mark Winokur. "[It's] way harder to stay on top, but we look forward to the challenge."
Ontario have plenty of fire power and with the bulk of their championship roster returning along with a number of U20 Canada graduates jockeying for starting positions, look more than capable of improving on their back-to-back single loss seasons.
The program has earned respect from veterans in the Canadian rugby landscape, including former national team coach and current Atlantic Rock head Pat Parfrey.
"Last year Ontario were excellent and are now the bench mark for success," said Parfrey, who led the 2010 Rock to a national title and is now in the midst of a five year revamp. "If our young players toughen up we will be competitive in a league characterized by parity."
The parity comes from each of the four regions blossoming with talent and their junior programs producing battle-hardened players from the Under-19 CRC and Canada's U20 program.
The last three MacTier Cups have been lifted in the East, but if newly appointed head coach Graeme Moffat of the Wolf Pack has any say in it, the coveted trophy will be hoisted by the Prairie rep side for the first time since the national competition was restructured in 2009. The Wolf Pack recently appointed their former assistant coach and two-time provincial club champion with the Calgary Hornets to his role in hopes of realigning the region for long term success with their U19 team and coaching staff.
Further West, the British Columbia Rugby Union re-renters the fold after the region was represented by the Pacific Tyee in 2012. Much of the 2009 champions' title hopes will rest on their coach's ability to juggle national team reps and their commitments with the rise of new talent available from the highly successful BC Rugby Academy.
BC will host the Wolf Pack in the CRC opener on August 10th, battling in front of Canada's future rugby generations in an evening tilt played in front of the participants of the 2013 National Championship in Vancouver.
BC will be splitting their home fixtures between the Lower Mainland this summer and the Island, hosting their labour day weekend matches against the Rock and Ontario at Westhills Stadium in Langford. The Wolf Pack will play their first two fixtures at Calgary Rugby Park against the Rock and Atlantic and plan to stage their final home game at Ellerslie Ruby Park in Edmonton. Teams heading to the Atlantic will be tested at Swiler's Rugby Park in St. John's, Newfoundland, a venue renowned for their passionate supporters. The Blues are set to confirm their venues in the coming weeks.
2013 Canadian Rugby Championship
Sat. Aug 10th: Praire Wolf Pack at British Columbia (UBC Wolfson Fields, Vancouver, BC)
Sat. Aug 17th: Atlantic Rock at Ontario Blues (Venue TBC)
Sat. Aug 24th. Prairie Wolf Pack at Atlantic Rock (Swiler's Rugby Complex, St. Johns, Nfld)
Fri. Aug 30th: Ontario Blues at British Columbia (Westhills Stadium, Langford, BC) Atlantic Rock at Prairie Wolf Pack (Calgary Rugby Park, Calgary, Alta)
Mon. Sept 2nd: Ontario Blues at Prairie Wolf Pack (Calgary Rugby Park, Calgary Alta) Atlantic Rock at British Columbia (Westhills Stadium, Langford, BC)
Sat. Sept 14th: British Columbia at Ontario Blues (Venue TBC)
Sat. Sep 21st: Ontario Blues at Atlantic Rock (Swiler's Rugby Complex, St. Johns, Nfld) British Columbia at Prairie Wolf Pack (Ellerslie Rugby Park, Edmonton, Alta)