VICTORIA -The University of Victoria Vikes men's rugby team begin their quest to claim the 2013 Barnard Cup this Friday, Sept. 13th against James Bay AA, at 7:00pm in Centennial Stadium. Friday's game will be the first of a three-game series, titled the Vancouver Island Inter-Union Championship, with the final prize being qualification for the Barnard Cup Finals in November.
Friday, Sept. 13: Vikes vs. James Bay AA (Centennial Stadium) 7:00pm
As a result of Team BC's involvement with the Canadian Rugby Championships in Ontario this weekend, eight UVic regulars will be missing from the Vikes lineup Friday evening.
"A lot of the younger guys are going to be forced to play [this Friday against James Bay]," said Tate. "It's not easy to replace some of those guys we have, but that's going to happen for the first couple weeks of the season."
In addition to fielding a younger squad, the Vikes will play in an unfamiliar environment, moving from their regular Wallace Field to host their island rivals at UVic's Centennial Stadium.
"It's a different surface, a faster surface. The grass is cut shorter for soccer," explained Tate. "It's a little narrower so it'll make for a little more contact…tactical kicking has to be better."
With the departure of several regulars, including national team standouts Nathan Hirayama and Phil Mack, as well as playing in a different environment, the Vikes will look to former Team BC U-18 member and second-year player Fergus Hall to provide leadership along with fifth-year hooker Liam Murray.
Both teams will also likely juggle their lineups as they begin to finalize starting rosters for the Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League season, beginning on October 5th. After missing the playoffs last season, the Vikes are looking to gain momentum from their early Barnard Cup matches as they look ahead to their 2013-14 season opener.
"The number one goal is to stay in the Premier League…contend for a playoff spot," added Tate. "Every year our goal is to win the Premier League…it's a tough goal, there are a lot of good players."
If any motivation for Friday's match is needed, the Vikes can look towards last season's Premier League finale, where they fell to James Bay 24-57 to finish sixth overall.
FULL SERIES SCHEDULE:
Sept. 13: Vikes vs. James Bay AA (7 p.m., Centennial Stadium)
Sept. 21: Vikes @ Castaway Wanderers (2:45 p.m., WIndsor Park)
Sept. 28: Vikes @ Velox (2:45 p.m., Velox Rugby Club)
Nov. 9: Barnard Cup Semifinals (2:45 p.m., Location TBD)
Nov. 30: Barnard Cup Final (2:45 p.m., Location TBD)