Marauders chase first Canadian Rugby Sevens title

McMaster Marauders will compete with six other entries in the inaugural National Invitational University Rugby Sevens Championship in Vancouver at University of British Columbia’s Thunderbird Stadium this weekend (March 11-12). The tourney features the top male and female collegian rugby talents.

McMaster is in pool A with the University of Victoria, Calgary and UBC Okanagan. UBC, Western Ontario, Alberta and Mount Royal are in Pool B.

Rugby fans in Vancouver will be treated to the high-speed and exhilarating spectacle of the Sevens game as men’s and women’s teams battle it out for the inaugural trophy. The sport has taken the world by storm and Sevens tournaments in countries such as New Zealand, The U.S., England and Hong Kong have welcomed hundreds of thousands of fans through the turnstiles. The growth and popularity of the game has been recognized internationally and it will feature as a medals event in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

McMaster begins play against the Victoria Vikes. The top team in each pool will play the fourth place team in the opposite pool in quarter-finals Saturday.

Vikes head coach Doug Tate said this is a great step for rugby approaching its debut at the Olympics in 2012 in London, England.

“With the Americans hosting a collegiate 7s championship, this is a natural step and it’s a positive step for rugby in Canada,” Tate said, noting his squad prepared with scrimmages against the national team this week in preparation for the games. “There’s going to be some good competition there and this is a great showcase for rugby.”

Games are 14 minutes in length and will be entertaining for fans.

“This is something we’ve working toward in Canada at the university level and it’s nice to see it get off the ground and it will be an exciting event,” Tate added.

Event organizer Rugby Canada is confident the championship will work to provide an ideal platform at which selectors can assess and select talented athletes from across the country to train and compete at both the national and international levels.

The championship will follow standard IRB rules for Sevens and Rugby Canada’s National Selectors will be in attendance at UBC to evaluate the players on show. National Sevens Coach, Geraint John says he is looking forward to witnessing the best players that the universities have to offer.

There is a sense of optimism that the championship will increase the talent pool of Sevens players for the men’s and women’s national sides. The long-term goal of the coaches and selectors is to move Canada into a position of strength in the world game and challenging for medals at the Olympics.