VANCOUVER: The defending Okanagan Spring Brewery League champions Vancouver Rowing Club kick off their title defence this weekend against United Rugby Club. The team faces a difficult task of repeating in this year's tier two competition which is set to feature nine Lower Mainland teams. Three Mainland sides will advance to the playoffs in May along with the Island first division winner, to battle for the league title and promotion to the 2013-14 Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League.
Okanagan Spring Brewery League One - Sat. September 15th:
Langley RFC at Kamloops RFC (Rayleigh Rugby Park) 2:30pm
Richmond RFC at Surrey Beavers AA (Sullivan) 2:30pm
Seattle at Abbotsford RFC (CFV Exhibition Park) 2:30pm
Vancouver Rowing Club at United Rugby Club (Hume Park) 2:30pm
UBC - Bye weekend
The Rowers have been busy in the preseason holding fixtures against Premier side UBCOB Ravens and last week travelled to Velox with their U19s, 1sts and 2nds. The U19s came away with a 48-10 win, the seconds team triumphed 34-31 and the firsts lost out 34-3. The Rowers are on the right track according to head coach Jeremy Sabell who says his team are viewing every team in the league as a threat to their titles hopes.
"There are teams in this league that we know something about. Richmond, for example, played us really tough each time out last year and Seattle is always a difficult team to play. Abbotsford will be strong after a season in the Premiership and UBC who are always strong, are back this year as well," Sabell said. "Then there are some teams we don't know about including United, Langley and Kamloops - teams we haven't played for a number of years. We expect every weekend to be a war."
The Rowers will again feature a roster of young talent with their firsts and seconds averaging approximately 22 years of age. Doug Crowe returns to the Rowers after an impressive run with the Canada U20 program, as will Caleb Hansen who played in a number of Canada U20 trial matches but missed out on selection for the Junior World Rugby Trophy. A key player to watch this season will be Ryan Chapman who returns from a stint with Sunnybank RFC Colts in Brisbane, Australia.
Leading the young players in their title defence are a number of veteran players who played instrumental roles in the Rowers lifting last year's tittle. The key leaders include Duncan James, Justin Wong and George Richmond.
"We all know that in any competition it is difficult to repeat but we believe if we can focus on the process of getting better every week that we have the opportunity to do so," Sabell added. "It is going to be a very competitive league this year with some great matchups. I hope people take the time to come and watch as there are going to be some very good teams."
Okanagan Spring Brewery League Two - Sat. September 15th:
Langley RFC at Kamloops RFC (Rayleigh Rugby Park) 1:00pm
Richmond RFC at Surrey Beavers AA (Sullivan) 1:00pm
Seattle at Abbotsford RFC (CFV Exhibition Park) 1:00pm
Vancouver Rowing Club at United Rugby Club (Hume Park) 1:00pm