This is B.C. rugby’s Welcome Back, Kotter moment.
Inter-union play, once a staple of provincial rugby before disappearing from the pitches of B.C. for nearly a decade, will be revived today at Westhills Stadium in Langford.
The McKechnie Cup, which was inaugurated the same year as the modern Olympics in 1896, used to be a significant and valued part of the annual B.C. rugby landscape before sitting dormant since 2004.
The competition, featuring the men’s rugby unions of the various parts of the province, begins a new era this afternoon with Vancouver taking on the Vancouver Island Crimson Tide at 3 p.m. on the Westhills pitch.
It is the finale of a tripleheader day in which Island and Vancouver teams also meet in the opening games of the Ruth Hellerud-Brown Cup for senior women at 11:30 a.m. and Dunbar Cup for Under-20 men at 1:15 p.m. A $10 admission ticket is good for all three games.
Doug Fraser of the UVic Vikes will captain the Kenny Goodland and Roger Robinson co-coached Island men’s team, which includes Canada international prospects Shea Wakefield of the Castaway Wanders, Dustin Dobravsky of the Vikes and Jim De Goede of James Bay Athletic Association.
The Island won five McKechnie Cups between 1994 and 2004 and is looking for history to repeat itself.
Meanwhile, touted UVic Vikes players and future Canada prospects Fergus Hall and Haydn Evans lead the Island U-20 squad, which is coached by former Canada great and World Cup veteran Winston Stanley. Vancouver U-20 answers with Canada U-19 international Jordan Harvey.
The Nanaimo trio of Desseray McClary, Britta Peterson and Brenna Collicutt bring the Island women into battle on the Brad Skene-coached side.
All the Cups will be three-round competitions. The second round is scheduled Feb. 2 at CFV Exhibition Park in Abbotsford with Vancouver Island away to the Fraser Valley. The third round will be Feb. 16 at Brockton Oval in Stanley Park with the Fraser Valley at Vancouver.
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