Nathan Yanagiya has lifted a Vegas International and Canadian University 7s title in his rookie year with UVic
Judy Teasdale photo
VICTORIA - Fresh off a national championship weekend at the University Sevens in Victoria, the no.4 UVic Vikes (4-4) will shift their focus to the next six rounds of the Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League XVs season with a Lower Island derby against the no. 6 Oak Bay Castaway Wanderers (2-5-1).
Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League - Sat. March 9th:
Burnaby Lake at UBCOB Ravens (Jericho Park) 2:45pm
UVic Vikes at Castaway Wanderers (Windsor Park) 2:45pm
The Vikes were in fine form last weekend, going undefeated to lift the 2013 National University Sevens championship. Player of the Tournament honours went to Cowichan product Pat Kay, a UVic sophomore making huge strides this season. A crop of young talent has also been making their presence felt in the absence of Canadian national sevens team trio Nathan Hirayama, Sean Duke and Phil Mack.
It's been an exhausting schedule for many of the players who have spent their time competing in Canada's U20, Senior Men's and Sevens programs. Several of the students will have a mid-week fixture Wednesday evening with the junior national team playing the Vikes at Centennial Stadium as Canada continues its preparations for their 2013 Junior World Trophy in Chile.
"We've had some players banged up and some away at the U20 camp this week," said UVic's head coach Doug Tate. "There have been lots of demands on these players who are also full time university students. It's been about trying to manage their time."
Key players to have made an impact this season include Kay, as well as Canada U20 and SMUS graduate Beau Parker who leads the league in try scoring with seven tallies.
"Pat Kay is a quiet leader but has impressive skills and I think he is making players around him much better," Tate added. "Beau has been a big part of our attack and one of our best defenders. Jamie MacKenzie has also really stepped up to a leadership role and with so many young guys I feel he has really led by example. "
Three rookies currently making an impact are graduates of British Columbia's U18 national championship winning team - Fergus Hall (Victoria), Nathan Yanagiya (North Vancouver) and James Pitblado (Vancouver). All three were on UVic's top side who defeated Western in last Saturday's National University Sevens Cup Final.
"Fergus can play three positions (in the backs) and is a good goal kicker," Tate added. "Nathan Yanagiya is very physical for his age, he is a big asset and is consistent. James has excellent skills and with more experience will be an excellent scrum half. He has confidence in his abilities which is important for his position."
This weekend the Vikes are up agains Oak Bay's Castaway Wanderers, a team who fell 27-10 against James Bay last weekend. CW and UVic met back on November 3rd with Oak Bay taking a narrow 30-26 win at Wallace Field. CW's defence currently ranks fourth in the league allowing 20.5 ppg against, while their offence of 19.5 ppg ranks sixth. CW's top scorer Fraser Lyle is tied for fifth overall with nine penalties and four conversions. Impact players on CW include Canada U20 graduates Kyle Armstrong and Michael Fuailefau.
The only other Premier League fixture set for this weekend sees no. 5 Burnaby Lake Rugby Club (4-3) away to Vancouver's no.7 UBCOB Ravens (2-5-1) at Jericho Park. The Ravens are coming off a 15-0 win over Bayside AA (2-7), while Burnaby did not play last weekend due to the heavy rains and flooded fields.
Premier League Scoring Leaders:
54 pts - Dan Kilpatrick (James Bay AA)
47 pts - James Reekie (Burnaby Lake)
41 pts - Eric Wilson (Meraloma)
39 pts - Chris Robinson (Capilano)
35 pts - Beau Parker (UVic Vikes)
35 pts - Matt Yanagiya (Capilano)
35 pts - Fraser Lyle (Castaway Wanderers)
25 pts - Pat Kay (UVic Vikes)
24 pts - Admir Cejvanovic (Burnaby Lake)
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)