VICTORIA – The University of Victoria Vikes men's rugby squad return to competition Jan. 18, as they head to Vancouver to face the UBC Thunderbirds, looking for a victory in the second game of the 43rd annual Wightman Boot series. After losing the first game of the series 29-16, the Vikes will need to win by a 14-point spread in Saturday's rematch if they hope to capture the boot for the 17th year in a row.
The Vikes finished the opening half of their Premier League season with a 4-2 record and currently sit in second-place overall in league standings behind Burnaby Lake RFC. Second-year Vikes fullback Fergus Hall leads the league in scoring entering the weekend, putting up three tries, seven penalty kicks and 16 conversions for 68 points through six games played.
UBC has gone a perfect 9-0 in their 2013-14 Okanagan Spring Brewery Div. 1 season, scoring 505 points for while allowing a mere 59 against. UBC's Brock Staller leads the league in scoring with 97 points, posting four tries, three penalty kicks and 34 conversions through nine games.
Vikes Pat Kay, Sean Duke, Nathan Yanagiya and Kane Wyatt will miss Saturday's match due to commitments with Team Canada as the national squad prepares for the Las Vegas Sevens tournament, taking place Jan. 24-26. As a result, Vikes head coach Doug Tate will look to younger players in the Vikes system to play pivotal roles in this weekend's match.
"It's a great opportunity for players to step and fill roles for our team," said Tate. "We haven't been in this position for awhile, so we'll see how they do."
The Wightman Boot competition has been contested on a yearly basis between UVic and UBC since 1970. The series is decided on total points scored over a two-game period. UVic has dominated the competition in recent memory, winning the last 16 boots dating back to the 1997-98 season. Kick-off for the final leg of the series is set for Jan. 18 at 2:30 p.m.