VANCOUVER, BC - Vancouver-based coach Tom Luke will join the BC Bears team staff for the 2014 season it was announced today by BC Rugby.
Luke will be joining a core of returning management that was key to a successful relaunch of the storied BC senior men's provincial program in 2013 where the side finished second in the Canadian Rugby Championship (CRC). Returning staff include forwards coach Kenny Goodland, Assistant Coach Roger Robinson and Strength and Conditioning Coach Conan Cooper. BC Rugby CEO Jim Dixon, who served as head coach in 2013, will oversee the program as General Manager.
"The players involved in 2013 showed real spirit and determination, resurrecting the BC Bears," said Dixon. "One crucial request from the players was consistency in the coaching group, and I’m happy we’ve been able to provide just that. The management team are looking forward to watching the second half of the club season and McKechnie Cup. No doubt many players will be looking to impress and earn their place in the squad."
Luke is currently head coach of the Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League club side UBC Old Boy Ravens in Vancouver. A former professional for over 10 years, Luke plied his trade overseas with stints at Bristol (Aviva Premiership), Leonessa Brescia (Italian Top 10 and Amlin Shield), UL Bohemians (Ireland Div 1) and English Championship sides Cornish Pirates, Doncaster Knights and London Welsh.
"Tom is a young, enthusiastic coach who draws on a distinguished playing background, to offer a current and exciting approach to the game," said Dixon. "We feel he is an ideal fit for our current program and I'm sure he will add to the enthusiasm currently present in both the playing and management group."
More recently Luke has served as Skills and Backs coach with Doncaster Knights and has worked with Truro College's Women's First XV. His coaching career also saw him involved with the age grade program at UL Bohemians where he led the U16 program to the Limerick Cup Final.
Since relocating to Canada, Luke has worked with Rugby Canada's under-20s as a Development Group Assistant Coach. A qualified RFU Level 3 coach, Luke assists Canada U20 head Coach Mike Shelley in weekly sessions on Vancouver Island as the program gears up for the Junior World Rugby Trophy in April.
"The opportunity to coach the BC Bears really appealed to me as it will mean not only working with the best players in BC, but also some of the best players in the country," said Luke. "I've thoroughly enjoyed my time here so far with the Ravens and it has been a challenging transition for me. Like any team I coach, I want to create an environment [with the Bears] where the players feel they can express themselves and enjoy their rugby."
2014 will be a significant year for the storied BC senior men's provincial program as it will mark the 125th Anniversary of the British Columbia Rugby Union. The Bears are set to embark on their most ambitious schedule in recent history with a summer tour slated for South America, a six-game Canadian Rugby Championship campaign and a highlight Anniversary fixture versus a Canadian Selects side in July.
To mark the special occasion, the Bears' home games will be hosted in three different cities across the province. Their first CRC home fixture on August 16th will see the Bears return to the Okanagan when they host the Prairie Wolf Pack at Kelowna's Applebowl Stadium. The event will also feature a Gala dinner hosted in partnership with the Central Okanagan Rugby Enthusiasts (CORE).
On September 4th, the Bears will host the Atlantic Rock at North Vancouver's Klahanie Park. Their third and final home fixture will see them shift to the Island for a September 7th clash with current MacTier Cup holders Ontario Blues at Langford's Westhills Stadium.
2014 Canadian Rugby Championship schedule:
Sat Aug. 9th: British Columbia Bears at Prairie Wolf Pack
Sat Aug. 16th: Prairie Wolf Pack at British Columbia Bears
Thu Sept. 4th: Atlantic Rock at British Columbia Bears
Sun Sept. 7th: Ontario Blues at British Columbia Bears
Thu Sept. 18th: British Columbia Bears at Ontario Blues
Sun Sept. 21st: British Columbia Bears at Atlantic Rock