Varsity games involving Vikes and Thunderbirds, whether in Gordon Head or Point Grey, have always exhibited a certain edge on the fields and floors of play. It has now been formalized with the Legends Cup, which will go to the school which wins the most combined points in a varsity season in head-to-head matchups between University of Victoria and University of British Columbia teams.
Side competitions are a staple of international sport and are not totally unknown in North America. The University of Washington Huskies and Washington State Cougars play for the Apple Bowl in their annual football meeting and the Vancouver Whitecaps, Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers vie for the Cascadia Cup side championship within the general Major League Soccer regular season.
The Legends Cup will go to the annual overall winner between head-to-head meetings between UVic and UBC teams, with two points awarded for a win and one point for a draw in men’s and women’s soccer, basketball, field hockey, rugby XVs, cross-country and rowing.
The Legends Cup was so named in honour of all the many past Vikes and Thunderbirds Olympians, World Cup players and other sporting legends.
“There was no question, as a Vikes player, that the UBC game was the biggest game to get up for,” said former legendary UVic rugby player Mark Wyatt, a member of the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame, who played in 29 Tests and two World Cups, captaining Canada to the 1991 quarter-finals.
UVic rowing great and Olympic silver medallist Barney Williams, now head coach of the Vikes women’s rowers, concurred: “Beating UBC was and is part of the UVic mantra, because both programs represented, and still do, a standard of excellence.”
UBC men’s basketball coach Kevin Hanson recalls coming from the Lower Mainland as an awe struck Grade 10 player to watch UVic greats Eli Pasquale, Kelly Dukeshire and Gerald Kazanowski play at McKinnon Gym because he had heard so much about them and the Vikes hoops dynasty.
Since then, as a UBC player, assistant coach and head coach, Hanson has played against UVic 77 times. Not that anybody keeps count in this rivalry or anything like that.
The athletic director of the losing school in the Legends Cup competition must present the trophy to the athletic director of the winning school at the latter’s annual athletic awards banquet.
“I am looking forward to seeing [UVic athletic-director] Clint Hamilton at our UBC awards banquet next spring,” quipped Hanson.
The Legends Cup competition begins Saturday when UVic hosts UBC in a Canada West women’s soccer game at 2 p.m. at Centennial Stadium.
“It’s like a sibling rivalry, with UBC the big sister and UVic the little sister,” said Vikes women’s soccer coach Tracy David,” a former Canadian national team player and member of the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame.
“But there is no hatred. There’s just too much respect between the teams. All these UVic and UBC players know each other from playing high school and club with and against each other. There are no secrets. It’s never difficult to motivate our Vikes athletes when the opposition is UBC. It’s the one game to which we always look forward.”
UVic and UBC already have side competitions in rowing and rugby with the Brown Cup and Wightman Boot. Those will continue as subsets within the wider framework of the Legends Cup.