UVic men’s rugby team looks forward to a strong season

Sports Sports | Lifestyle

The UVic men’s rugby team kicked off their season with a pair of big wins. On Sept. 13, the Vikes defeated regional rival James Bay Athletic Association 28-17, and on Sept. 22 the Vikes took down the Castaway Wanderers in convincing fashion 45-10.

James Bay AA defeated the Vikes in April, 57-24, to end the Vikes’ 2012-13 Premier League season en route to a Premiership title. The win over James Bay early in the 2013-14 season will no doubt give this new Vikes squad confidence moving forward.

The two early wins came as a part of the Vancouver Island Inter-Union Championship. With the wins, UVic looks poised to qualify for the Barnard Cup Finals set for Nov. 30.

The final game of their three-game Vancouver Island Inter-Union Championship is against city rival Velox Rugby Club on Sept. 28. A win will secure the Vikes a solid matchup and a home game in the Barnard Cup semifinals on Nov. 9.

Second-year Vike Fergus Hall scored 13 points for the Vikes in their Sept. 13 victory over James Bay. His sights are set higher than just the Barnard Cup.

“The Barnard Cup is just an Island warm-up for the B.C. Premier League season,” Hall says. “It’s nice to get a few wins against the teams in Victoria before starting the Premiership. It’s also good for Island bragging rights.”

UVic looks to gather some momentum from their recent Barnard Cup victories and carry it forward into their 2013-14 Premier League season. UVic finished sixth overall last season, but looks to avenge their loss and move up in the rankings.

The Premier League is the most competitive league in Western Canada, featuring university teams such as UBC and UVic, but also showcasing legendary rugby clubs such as the Velox from Victoria and the Maralomas from Vancouver.

UVic has a slight disadvantage, as they can only field eligible students, while other clubs have players of all ages. Hall says that the size disadvantage can sometimes hurt them, but adds that the speed and youth of UVic can balance it out.

“Doug [Tate] is super into fitness,” Hall says of the veteran coach. “We are often undersized, so we have to rely on our speed and endurance. We train three times a week and I think we are really starting to come together.”

On top of being a Vike and a  Canadian national rugby player, Hall is also studying Biomedical Engineering. Managing a tough training schedule and his schoolwork is no easy feat, but Hall makes it work.

“My schedule gets pretty full. I just do my best to avoid conflicts and stay on top of my workload,” Hall says. “I also have to maintain a certain GPA, so that makes me focus to fit everything in.”

Hall, originally from Macclesfield, England, moved to Victoria when he was three. He has been playing competitive rugby for 10 years, playing for the B.C. provincial team and representing Canada in the U-17, U-18, and U-19 divisions. He brings his impressive rugby resumé to the Vikes and looks to contribute this season.

“We have lots of young talent this season,” says Hall. “This year we have picked up a few younger guys who have developed. We are hoping to take everyone by surprise and show ’em what we can do.”

Players Hall expects to have big seasons include third-year Patrick Kay, who was recently carded to be on the Canadian national rugby 7s team, and second-year Nathan Yanagiya.

The Vikes hope to win the Barnard Cup, which will give them a load of confidence heading into the Premiership season. Hall sets a goal for his team: to finish in the top four, make the playoffs, and see what they can do from there.