VICTORIA - MacDonald Park will play host to a matchup between the top-ranked James Bay Athletic Association (6-2) and defending provincial champions Capilano RFC (6-2) in round nine of the Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League. The two storied programs have each lifted three Rounsefell Cup titles over the last decade and with just two points between them in the league standings will once again be battling for top spot in the table.
Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League Schedule - Sat. March 2nd:
Capilano RFC at James Bay AA (MacDonald Park) 2:45pm
Bayside AA at UBCOB Ravens (Jericho Park) 2:45pm
Meraloma Rugby Club at Burnaby Lake (Burnaby Lake Sports Complex) 2:45pm
Capilano edged James Bay in a provincial championship thriller last May and are currently 1-0 against the Island champions after defeating them 27-6 at Klahanie Park back on November 3rd. The Bays are undefeated on their home pitch and have reloaded for the second half of the season.
James Bay's roster features the return of Neil Meechan and former Canada World Cup captain Morgan Williams, as well as front row standout Russ Ward.
"Some of our new additions are really 'old' additions," said James Bay Coach Peter Rushton. "Neil Meechan and Morgan Williams will both be out on a regular basis. Tyler Ardron (when available) and Matt Heat will help bolster the forwards and Russ Ward is showing his versatility and athleticism."
Recent addition and former Canada U20 national team rep Jordan Wilson-Ross has also joined the Bays. The Ontario rugby product showed well in last weekend's 27-10 win over Oak Bay's Castaway Wanderers setting up two tries.
The match was the first in three months for both teams after a winter break and McKechnie Cup action in January.
"The CW game looked like two clubs that hadn't played any meaningful games for a long time," added Rushton. "But it was very important to get the win as every game will have a significant impact in the standings."
James Bay's next opponent, Capilano are also coming off an important win as they squeaked out a 20-17 victory over Lower Mainland rivals Meraloma last weekend at Klahanie Park.
"Caps are the current Rounsefelll Cup champions and a group that JBAA has no problem getting motivated to play," added Rushton. "They have the luxury of drawing from a number of very solid programs on the North Shore. They have a couple of solid imports to add more depth to an already deep program and are very well coached by Tom Larisch."
Capilano is Captained by Canada U21 graduate Charlie Jones and co-captained by 2012 BC Rugby Player of the Year Glen McKinnon. The back line features a number of speedsters including the league's fourth-ranked scorer (39 pts) in scrum half Chris Robinson.
"I see Caps as a group that have a good mix of skilled players with some solid grinders who simply get the job done," Rushton added. "They are athletic 1 through 15 and it is pretty tough to find any weaknesses. It should be a great test for both teams."
Kickoff is currently set for 2:45pm with the First Division sides set to square off in Ceili's Cup league play at 1:00pm. Across the Strait, the no. 8 UBCOB Ravens (1-5-1) will play host to the no. 7 Bayside Sharks (2-6).
No. 3 Meraloma (5-3) are on the road to no. 5 Burnaby Lake Rugby Club (4-3) in a match that will decide the Palmer Cup series. The annual competition counts all men's games between the two sides including their Premier, First and Third Division results. Meraloma won the cup 10 years in a row but Burnaby Lake have won the last two. The series currently stands with Burnaby leading 2-0. The series started in 2000 in memory of Doug "the Bear" Palmer, a former BLRC/Trojan member who passed away at the 1999 World Cup the evening after Canada played France. Palmer was taught rugby by Doug Sturrock, a dedicated Meraloma and instrumental member of the local BC Rugby community. The Cup was brought in to celebrate club on club rugby and has been contested for 12 years.
Week Nine Premier League Scoring Leaders:
54 pts - Dan Kilpatrick (James Bay AA)
47 pts - James Reekie (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club)
41 pts - Eric WIlson (Meraloma Rugby Club)
39 pts - Chris Robinson (Capilano RFC)
35 pts - Beau Parker (UVic Vikes)
35 pts - Matt Yanagiya (Capilano RFC)
35 pts - Fraser Lyle (Castaway Wanderers RFC)
24 pts - Admir Cejvanovic (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club)
23 pts - Phil Mack (UVic Vikes)
23 pts - Connor Braid (James Bay AA)
23 pts - Patrick Watson (UBCOB Ravens)
23 pts - Nathan Hirayama (UVic Vikes)