Game Preview – October 22-23, 2011

Games this Weekend:

Saturday:

Men’s First Division – Uvic Jutes at Cowichan (Cowichan Rugby Club) 1:00pm

Sunday:

Under-18 Women – Cowichan at Bayside (South Surrey Athl. Park) 11:30am

Men’s Third Division – Cowichan at Powell River (Powell River) 1:00pm**

U17 Men – Cowichan at Castaway Wanderers (Windsor Park) 1:00pm

U19 Men – James Bay at Cowichan (Cowichan Rugby Club) 2:30pm

** The 3rds will be meeting at the clubhouse at 6.45am on Sunday 23rd with the aim of getting the 10am ferry from Comox. We only have 10 players confirmed right now, so we need some lads to step up and join us for an awesome day of drinking, singing, and maybe even a little bit of rugby too. Guaranteed it will be good times for all!!! Let Tom know if you need more info.

VIRU Meeting Report

Cowichan, Castaway Wanderers, Velox, Comox, Rugby Canada, Port Alberni, Nanaimo and the VIRU were present. The Spring Leagues are still not decided and there was discussion in this area. The format should be coming out soon. Cowichan will only have 1 team that plays on Saturdays and 1 team that plays on Sundays.

There was lots of discussion on Wednesday evening regarding the future of rugby in BC. It was clear that the current structure is not working. One of the key issues is the continuance of the rugby community to place too much emphasis on Elite Rugby, therefore neglecting the recreational aspect of the sport which is the majority. It was interesting that all the clubs present were interested in the single team Elite concept thereby leaving the second team free to play in a Regional Island League. U-Vic, although not represented at the meeting, has indicated they would be supportive of a single team Elite league leaving the 2nd team to play local sun union rugby. Basically going back to the way rugby was structured before the 2 team Elite system was brought in.

It was clearly stated that having to travel with two full teams to the mainland 5-6 times in the Spring is not working. With clubs traveling with as few as 22 players to play back to back fixtures, player safety was identified. There was also discussion on what should be a minimum number of players to travel with in order to play 2 games. There seemed to be consensus that 2 x 15 players = 2 teams. 30 players should be a minimum. Note: Not one club that traveled to Cowichan last spring had 2 full rosters. Bayside had 28 players, Rowers had 25 players, Brit Lions had 24 players and Seattle arrived with 22 players and played two games. Most clubs at the meeting indicated they at one time or another traveled to the mainland with less than 30 players. (Port Alberni 25-29 players, Cowichan, 24-38 players, Velox, 25-32 players, CW was good at having over 30 players on their trips, Nanaimo didn’t know, but the assumption was that they usually traveled with 30 players)

The time commitment for recreational players that have to travel was also discussed. The mainland trips are sometimes taking up to 18 hours door to door for some clubs which is unacceptable for many players, managers and coaches. There was a thought that rather than give up 5-6 weekends to rugby some players are simply leaving the sport. (Family, work commitments etc. all being factors) Leaving at 4am and getting back home sometimes after midnight is difficult and does affect the whole weekend for guys that work Mon-Fri.

It was felt that having a robust Sub Union Competition (ie keep play on the island for all by Elite Rugby) will create more enthusiasm for club, be less expensive and give players an option of having more time with their families etc. Perhaps travel 1-2 times to the mainland Sept-April would be acceptable. Playoffs and championships would then be between the top clubs in the sub-unions. Elite Rugby would be on it’s own.

Below is a round up of the ideas as written by Andrew Spray, BCRU.

Long Term Vision for Rugby in BC

There would be an Elite / Super / Premier League of 6 – 8 teams.

The schedule for these teams, most likely associated with traditional clubs, would be for the club’s top team only. If only 6 teams, a complete double round could take place in the Spring only. If 7 or 8 it would be a double round spread over the full season. In either case, provision would exist so some promotion / regulation procedure could allow a new team to displace an old team.

In a full season league, any qualification play within the season would need to take place during September and only involve a limited number of clubs. (Personally, I prefer the full season Super League with provision for at most one change from one year to the next).  The Elite League would have a BCRU appointed Commissioner and would operate independently of other BCRU competitions. C lubs would be expected to bring 22 players to any match.  The top teams of non-Super League clubs together with the second teams of Super-League clubs would be divided into two or more regional First Division Leagues. One of these would be Vancouver Island. Others might be Mainland West and Mainland East.

Expectation would be that as well as playing a double round within each regional Division there would be two interlock games during the course of the full season.  Stronger Third teams of Super-League clubs, second teams of non-Super League clubs and some single team only clubs would form several regional second division leagues. Weaker teams from the clubs just described would form several regional third division leagues.

In scheduling, every effort would be made to have multiple team clubs have their different teams, even though usually facing different opposition, play together at home to ensure maximum attendance, gate, bar revenue, etc, and most importantly, club solidarity.  As there would be room in such arrangements for other special events, the McKechnie Cup competition would be restored, giving an opportunity for at least some of the more outstanding players not involved with a Super League team to experience a high level of competitive rugby and be seen by selectors of higher representative teams.

It might be appropriate to place some restrictions such as limiting teams to U-25 players, or not allowing carded players from outside BC to participate.  Super League players from BC could participate.  Details could be worked out. (For Super League in the above, Premier League or CDI Premier might be a better term).

Obviously, a lot of discussion would be required to put such a scheme into place, but what is proposed here does: 

  • Guarantee a very high level of competition at the top level.
  • Remove the necessity for the highest level of play to dominate the BCRU, by making the Premier League somewhat independent in its operation.
  • Allow for early publication and advertising of Premier League schedule.
  • Provide appropriate levels of competition below the Premier League that avoid excessive costs, both financial and time, for major travel.
  • Allow for strong players from non-Premier teams to experience and be seen in high level competition For Spring 2012, more modest tweaks are desirable.

It is essential that those adjustments, if any, be communicated to clubs as soon as possible and certainly by the beginning of December. Prompt action is essential!

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