Vancouver Island's Pat Kay recorded 23 points against Vancouver (Glenn Ivens Photo - gallery link)
ABBOTSFORD - Current McKechnie Cup holders Fraser Valley will kick off their Cups Competitions campaign this Saturday, almost nine years since lifting the coveted trophy in 2004. The Valley side will be up against the red hot Vancouver Island Crimson Tide, who cruised past Vancouver in last week's series opener with a 33-13 victory at Westhills Stadium in Victoria.
"The Island are a team full of power and pace. They are a very strong side and we look forward to playing against some of their top players," said Fraser Valley head coach Kris de Scossa. "We know heading into Saturday that we are seen as the underdogs but we will look to compete and play them minute by minute."
A win for the Tide on Saturday would see the visitors clinch the 2013 McKechnie Cup, ahead of the final matchup with Fraser Valley visiting Vancouver on February 16th. Vancouver Island will be led by Captain Doug Fraser and Canada U20 standout Pat Kay this weekend. A Cowichan Rugby Club youth graduate, Kay accounted for 23 of the Island's 33 points in their win over Vancouver.
"Pat Kay is a fabulous player and we look forward to the level of competition that he and his team will bring on Saturday. The Island has a number of stars that they are able to draw from," de Scossa added.
Preparations for the Fraser Valley have been underway for the last month with representatives attending from Abbotsford, Burnaby, Bayside, Chilliwack, Langley, Richmond, Ridge Meadows, Surrey and United.
The team will be captained by Abbotsford RFC standout Aaron Flagg - a mobile forward on the cusp of cracking the Canadian national team roster. Flagg was selected for the national team's development Canada A squad during the Americas Rugby Championship in October and has continued to excel with his club in the Lower Mainland Okanagan Spring Brewery First Division. Co-captaining the team is Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League and Bayside scrum half Cody Rockson. Key players to watch also include Burnaby Lake's Micha Govorchin, Abbotsford's Chris Chalmers and Ridge Meadows' Rob Hughes.
"Aaron and Cody have been our leaders at practice and are part of our core group looking to perform at the representative level," added de Scossa. "We have a strong unity within our team and that will be one of our strengths in this competition."
De Scossa has been working alongside Fraser Valley Rugby Union President Jim Ryan, a former BC rep who competed for a number of years in the McKechnie Cup competition.
"Jim is very passionate about the return of the McKechnie Cup and part of our build up has been emphasizing the history and culture of this program," de Scossa added. "We realize as coaches that if we continue to select the top players for this program that it will serve as a great competition to improve the rugby in BC."
Kickoff between the two men's teams is set for 2:30pm at Abbotsford's Exhibition Park. The Cups Competitions triple-header opens with the Senior Women's sides competing in the Ruth Hellerud-Brown Cup competition at 11:00am and the Under-20 Dunbar Keg competition at 12:45pm.
BC Rugby Cups Competitions
The BC Rugby Cups Competitions are a series of inter union representative rugby matches to be played over three weekends. The series kicked off on January 26th with the Vancouver Island Rugby Union hosting the Vancouver Rugby Union in a triple-header at Westhills Stadium in Victoria. The Vancouver Island Tide senior men and women were both victorious on the day while their Under-20s fell to Vancouver.
NOTE: Exhibition Park is located on the corner of Tretheway St and MacLure Rd in Abbotsford.