VANCOUVER: The 2012-2013 Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League gets underway this weekend with the reigning Rounsefell Cup champions Capilano RFC hosting Bayside Athletic Association in West Vancouver. Across town, Kitsilano's Meraloma Rugby Club are at home to a new-look University of Victoria Vikes squad.
The remaining four teams will have to wait another week before kicking off the season as James Bay AA, Castaway Wanderers RFC, Burnaby Lake Rugby Club and the UBCOB Ravens have rescheduled their opening fixtures due to player commitments in the Canadian Rugby Championship.
Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League - Sat. September 15th:
Bayside at Capilano (Klahanie Park - West Vancouver) 2:45pm
UVic Vikes at Meraloma Rugby Club (Connaught Park - Kitsilano) 2:45pm
The Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League returns to a seven month season for the 2012-13 edition with games scheduled September through November and February through May. The mild West Coast climate allows for year-round rugby in the province which sees the competition attract top Canadian players on an annual basis. Of the 22 senior men's national team players to face Georgia in an international Test match this past June in Burnaby, 20 were either current participants or recent graduates of the Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League.
West Vancouver's Capilano face a difficult task in repeating as provincial champions having bid farewell to a number of veterans in Akio Tyler, Ron Johnstone, Mike Langley and Chistoph Strubin and they will be without the services of national team players Ryan Hamilton and Harry Jones. Leading the team in their title defence are Glen McKinnon, Charlie Jones, Nathan Rees and Taylor Dalziel, a Canada U20 graduate who returns to the club after wrapping up his studies with the UBC Thunderbirds program.
Looking to wrestle the trophy from Capilano's grasp are cross-town rivals Meraloma Rugby Club. With their new head coach at the helm, the Lomas will be looking to reassert themselves as playoff contenders having missed out on the provincial final in 2012 for the first time in four seasons. The UBCOB Ravens will be relying heavily on their recruits after the retirement of some top internationals, and Burnaby Lake Rugby Club will look to continue their impressive climb with their battle-tested forwards. The dark horse for this year's title could very well be South Surrey's Bayside Athletic Association who return to the Premier League after an impressive run in last year's Tier Two Okanagan Spring Brewery League.
Provincial powerhouse James Bay AA will look to add to their record 22 Rounsefell Cups this season after coming agonizingly close in last year's championship final where they were downed 25-24 by Capilano. The Bays - who have won four straight Vancouver Island Barnard Cup titles - have not lifted the coveted Rounsefell since their three year sweep culminated in 2008. The Oak Bay Castaway Wanderers will battle through the fall without many of their national team standouts and many will be watching to see when the talent-laden UVic Vikes will hit their stride.
For coaches perspectives and key statistics, see the Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League team guide below.
(North Shore / Vancouver Rugby Union)
2012 regular season record: 10-4 (3rd)
2012 playoffs: Rounsefell Cup champions
Last Premier League title: 2012
Rounsefell Cups: 3 (2004, 2005, 2012), 5 as North Shore (’55, ’48, ’33-’35)
Coaches perspective - Tom Larisch: "Some of the older players have moved on or are unavailable. It is a good opportunity for some of the younger players to step up and prove themselves. I see a lot of potential but it will take some tough lessons and some real hard work if we want to repeat."
Key additions: Taylor Dalziel, a former Canada U20 representative has graduated from UBC and joined the squad
Key returnees: Glen McKinnon, Charlie Jones, Nathan Rees
Key departures: Akio Tyler, Ron Johnstone, Mike Langley, Christoph Strubin, Ryan Hamilton, Harry Jones
JAMES BAY ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION
(James Bay / Vancouver Island Rugby Union)
2012 regular season record: 13-1 (1st)
2012 playoffs: Rounsefell Cup final loss to Capilano
Last Premier League title: 2008
Rounsefell Cups: 22 (2006-08, 1999, ’96, ’93, ’92, ’89, ’82, 1974-80, ’63, ’46, 1938-40, ’25)
Coaches perspective - Peter Rushton: "We are clearly in the midst of a transition at JBAA. We always look to be competitive and have one clear objective in mind ..... to win the Rounsefell Cup. For key additions the players are young, athletic and keen to make their mark at the premier level."
Key additions: Cole Racine, Noah Barker, Brandon Harrison
Key returnees: Spencer Dalziel (Captain - Very reliable elite level player), Morgan Williams (Always a difference maker), Nolan Miles (Just entering his prime years, was a dominant player last year) Jim Degoede (Ready to take on a more significant leadership role, big, very mobile and well grounded in the fundamentals), Francis Yoon (Veteran, loves the grunt work, very athletic)
Key departures: To be confirmed. "Have to wait till the dust settles to see who is in and who is out," adds Rushton.
CASTAWAY WANDERERS RFC
(Oak Bay / Vancouver Island Rugby Union)
2012 regular season record: 10-3-1 (2nd)
2012 playoffs: Semifinal loss to Capilano
Last Premier League title: 2011
Rounsefell Cups: 4 (2011, 2002, ’01, ’00)
Coaches perspective: "The first half of the season will be crucial, given many key players will be unavailable due to ARC (America's Rugby Championship), National team fall tour and iRB 7s series commitments. However, the club has good depth, with a lot of last season's successful U19 team now moving to the senior ranks. We are very happy to add Ken Goodland and Roger Robinson to the coaching staff."
Key additions: Ian Manly, Mike Fuailefau
Key returnees: Andrew Tiedemann, Mike Pletch, Hubert Buydens, Gord Kehoe, Dylan Jones, Kyle Armstrong, Ander Monro, Matt Buckley, Paul Buckley
Key departures: Brian Mackenzie, Matt Weingart, Ken Goodland, Roger Robinson (all retired)
BURNABY LAKE RUGBY CLUB
(Burnaby / Vancouver Rugby Union)
2012 regular season record: 8-6 (4th)
2012 playoffs: Semifinal loss to James Bay
Rounsefell Cups: None
Coaches perspective - Kris De Scossa: "The strength of this team is that the players are home grown and they know each other well and train hard. Right now there is a great culture and atmosphere at the club and I think it's going to be an exciting season for us. Last year we were in the semifinals and this year we are looking to repeat that performance and make the playoffs. With the changes to the schedule (year long format), it is now going to be a season of attrition. As of right now we have upwards of eight players competing in the CRC where our players are getting some great experience. If you look at the Pacific Tyee rosters, the front row is predominantly made up of Burnaby players and I think that experience will do them good. We are looking forward to the competition and we will have a bit of a different look with Jim Dixon, from New Zealand, as our defensive coordinator."
Key additions: New players to arrive in October: Sam Carlson from New Zealand. Max Hepner out of Kamloops will be coming to Burnaby after a year of playing with the College Rifles in New Zealand
Key returnees: Joe Dolesau (2011 CRC Co-Player of the Year), Evan Thomas, Anthony Luca, Scott Mackay, Andrew Lackner, Micha Govorchin, Ryan Acherman (CRC Wolf Pack)
Key departures: Rory McDonald - previously full back and fly half has gone back to Ontario to study
MERALOMA RUGBY CLUB
(Kitsilano / Vancouver Rugby Union)
2012 regular season record: 7-6 (5th)
2012 playoffs: did not qualify
Last Premier League title: 2009
Rounsefell Cups: 13 (2009, ’86-’88, ’83, ’73, ’72, ’67, ’65, ’54, ’41, ’39, ’29)
Coaches perspective - Angel Cividanes: "My goal for this season is get back to the top two as we used to be couple of years ago. My focus as a coach is improve the players' skills, and get them into the game frame and structure we want to develop this season. The club expectations are very high and the coaching staff and players will work hard to get above them. We will have a team with many veteran players from [past] seasons, like Brian Erichsen, Sam Jenkins, Eric Wilson and Mile Racic and a good mix with many young and new players."
Key additions: To be confirmed.
Key returnees: Will Campbell (returns from studies at UVic), Lee Nystrom (coming back from injury)
Key departures: Rhodri Hanmer (moved to Wales), Joe Scale (injury, moved to back row), Brock Staller (studying at UBC), Bryan Tyrer (studying at UBC), Derek Townsend (injured)
UBCOB RAVENS RFC
(Vancouver West / Vancouver Rugby Union)
2012 regular season record: 4-10 (6th)
2012 playoffs: did not qualify for playoffs
Last Premier League title: 1994
Rounsefell Cups: 5 (1994, ’90, ’91, ’85, ’81)
Coaches perspective - Aled Thomas: "On our day, providing we have all players available to us, we will be extremely competitive this year, even though we have lost a few key individuals from last year's team. If we gather momentum and early consistency we will become a difficult team to beat especially at home. Our aim is to challenge the top four and to be in a playoff position by May."
Key additions: Justin Law, Jon Hill, David Balcom, Shane O'Connor, Paddy Fowler, Matt Law, Mark Southern
Key returnees: Graeme Minty
Key departures: Ed Fairhurst, Mike Burak, Dan Wainwright, Jake Zserpak and Pat Dessaulles
UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA VIKES
(Saanich / Vancouver Island Rugby Union)
2012 regular season record: 2-12 (7th)
2012 playoffs: did not qualify for playoffs
Last Premier League title: 2010
Rounsefell Cups: 3 (2010, ’03, 1971)
Coaches perspective - Doug Tate: "The premier league will be a real challenge for the Vikes this season and will give a lot of young players the opportunities they need to develop. I felt last year the Premier teams were very talented and every game was a struggle for us at times. Many of our players are a year older and I think they will be much better prepared to compete against the more physical teams. The challenge will be all the representative players being away at key times in the schedule but we are looking forward to the season getting started."
Key additions: Adam Kleeberger, Jamie McKenzie, Fergus Hall, Nathan Yanagiya, Jeff Nishma-Miller, Haydn Evans
Key returnees: Nathan Hirayama, Phil Mack, Jake Ilnicki, Tony LaCarte, Casey Reed, Beau Parker, Sean Duke, Patrick Kay
Key departures: Brett Beukeboom, Michael Fuailefau, Struan Robertson
BAYSIDE ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION
(Whiterock / Vancouver Rugby Union)
2012 regular season record: did not play Premier Rugby
Rounsefell Cups: None
Coaches perspective - Pat Kearney: "Bayside will look to have a strong season in Rounsefell Cup play this year. Boosted by a strong youth movement within the club, the aims and goals for this season are to continue to develop players and show our competitors that we belong in this league. The club as a whole from the [premier players] to the third division guys are excited to have top level rugby being played at South Surrey Athletic Park again and will do everything in their power to stay in Rounsefell Cup competition."
Key additions: Adam Timler, Steve Bouchard, Brandon Lemoignan
Key returnees: Cody Rockson, Pat Bickerton, Pete Clifford, Gurvinder Kalar, Eric Sugiwara, Isimeli Sigarua
Key departures: Jay Blaak