Langford welcomes Canada’s sole pro-rugby team to Starlight Stadium

Starlight Stadium was packed with fans as the Toronto Arrows played for the first time in British Columbia in their game against LA Giltinis in Langford on Feb. 11. (Bailey Moreton/News Staff)Starlight Stadium was packed with fans as the Toronto Arrows played for the first time in British Columbia in their game against LA Giltinis in Langford on Feb. 11. (Bailey Moreton/News Staff)
The LA Giltinis’ Andrew Tuala powers through a determined Toronto Arrows defence Friday night at Langford’s Starlight Stadium. It was the first MLR game ever played in B.C. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)The LA Giltinis’ Andrew Tuala powers through a determined Toronto Arrows defence Friday night at Langford’s Starlight Stadium. It was the first MLR game ever played in B.C. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)
Toronto Arrows captain Mike Sheppard scores a diving try Friday night in a game against the LA Giltinis at Langford’s Starlight Stadium. It was the first MLR game ever played in B.C. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)Toronto Arrows captain Mike Sheppard scores a diving try Friday night in a game against the LA Giltinis at Langford’s Starlight Stadium. It was the first MLR game ever played in B.C. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)
Starlight Stadium was packed with fans as the Toronto Arrows played for the first time in British Columbia in their game against LA Giltinis in Langford on Feb. 11. (Bailey Moreton/News Staff)Starlight Stadium was packed with fans as the Toronto Arrows played for the first time in British Columbia in their game against LA Giltinis in Langford on Feb. 11. (Bailey Moreton/News Staff)
Matt Michael and Aaron Clark enjoy the match between the Toronto Arrows and LA Giltinis Friday night at Langford’s Starlight Stadium. It was the first MLR game ever played in B.C. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)Matt Michael and Aaron Clark enjoy the match between the Toronto Arrows and LA Giltinis Friday night at Langford’s Starlight Stadium. It was the first MLR game ever played in B.C. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)
Toronto Arrows captain Mike Sheppard, Langford Mayor Stew Young and LA Giltinis captain Dave Dennis stand at centre field Friday night at Langford’s Starlight Stadium. It was the first MLR game ever played in B.C. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)Toronto Arrows captain Mike Sheppard, Langford Mayor Stew Young and LA Giltinis captain Dave Dennis stand at centre field Friday night at Langford’s Starlight Stadium. It was the first MLR game ever played in B.C. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)
Starlight Stadium was packed with fans as the Toronto Arrows played for the first time in British Columbia in their game against LA Giltinis in Langford on Feb. 11. (Bailey Moreton/News Staff)Starlight Stadium was packed with fans as the Toronto Arrows played for the first time in British Columbia in their game against LA Giltinis in Langford on Feb. 11. (Bailey Moreton/News Staff)
Starlight Stadium was packed with fans as the Toronto Arrows played for the first time in British Columbia in their game against LA Giltinis in Langford on Feb. 11. (Bailey Moreton/News Staff)Starlight Stadium was packed with fans as the Toronto Arrows played for the first time in British Columbia in their game against LA Giltinis in Langford on Feb. 11. (Bailey Moreton/News Staff)
Langford singer Jaimey Hamilton performs the national anthems Friday night at the Starlight Stadium before a matchup between the Toronto Arrows and LA Giltinis. It was the first MLR game ever played in B.C. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)Langford singer Jaimey Hamilton performs the national anthems Friday night at the Starlight Stadium before a matchup between the Toronto Arrows and LA Giltinis. It was the first MLR game ever played in B.C. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)
The Toronto Arrows and LA Giltinis line up at centre field Friday night at Starlight Stadium in Langford. The Arrows played for the first time in British Columbia. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)The Toronto Arrows and LA Giltinis line up at centre field Friday night at Starlight Stadium in Langford. The Arrows played for the first time in British Columbia. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)
The Toronto Arrows get the height advantage on the line-out Friday night against the LA Giltinis at Langford’s Starlight Stadium in the first MLR game ever played in B.C. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)The Toronto Arrows get the height advantage on the line-out Friday night against the LA Giltinis at Langford’s Starlight Stadium in the first MLR game ever played in B.C. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)
The Toronto Arrows huddle up Friday night in a game against the LA Giltinis at Langford’s Starlight Stadium. It was the first MLR game ever played in B.C. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)The Toronto Arrows huddle up Friday night in a game against the LA Giltinis at Langford’s Starlight Stadium. It was the first MLR game ever played in B.C. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)
The Toronto Arrows and LA Giltinis battle it out in a scrum Friday night at Starlight Stadium in Langford. The Arrows were playing for the first time in British Columbia. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)The Toronto Arrows and LA Giltinis battle it out in a scrum Friday night at Starlight Stadium in Langford. The Arrows were playing for the first time in British Columbia. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)
Mayor Stew Young presents the match ball before kick-off. Starlight Stadium was packed with fans as the Toronto Arrows played for the first time in British Columbia in their game against LA Giltinis in Langford on Feb. 11. (Bailey Moreton/News Staff)Mayor Stew Young presents the match ball before kick-off. Starlight Stadium was packed with fans as the Toronto Arrows played for the first time in British Columbia in their game against LA Giltinis in Langford on Feb. 11. (Bailey Moreton/News Staff)
Toronto Arrows hooker Jack McRogers tosses the ball into a line-out Friday night during a match against the LA Giltinis at Langford’s Starlight Stadium. It was the first MLR game ever played in B.C. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)Toronto Arrows hooker Jack McRogers tosses the ball into a line-out Friday night during a match against the LA Giltinis at Langford’s Starlight Stadium. It was the first MLR game ever played in B.C. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)
Toronto Arrows flanker James O’Neill catches his breath between plays Friday night during a match against the LA Giltinis at Langford’s Starlight Stadium. It was the first MLR game ever played in B.C. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)Toronto Arrows flanker James O’Neill catches his breath between plays Friday night during a match against the LA Giltinis at Langford’s Starlight Stadium. It was the first MLR game ever played in B.C. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)

Major League Rugby touched down in Langford on Friday night (Feb. 11) as the Toronto Arrows lost to the LA Giltinis in the first-ever MLR game hosted on British Columbian soil.

Despite being more than 4,000 kilometres away from their usual stomping grounds, Toronto had the backing of the home crowd, with thousands of fans watching on from the stands at Starlight Stadium. Several of the players on the field have played on the Island with the national team, making the event feel like a homecoming. The same could be said for Toronto Arrows forward James O’Neill, who played for four years at the University of Victoria and said it was exciting to see fans coming out and supporting Canada’s only professional rugby team.

“It’s like we have the best home fans in the whole league because we’ve got a whole country behind us,” he said. “It’s incredible to see and humbling and when I first started playing there wasn’t anything like this. Hopefully, it keeps building.”

Toronto started off well, breaking out to a 10-0 lead after team captain Mike Sheppard charged down a LA kick to dive over under the posts, with kicker Spencer Jones adding a conversion and penalty.

The team continued strongly, and despite two LA tries was winning at half-time 16-12. The Giltinis scored a third try at the 48 minute mark to take the lead for the first time, making it a one-point game at 16-17. Toronto had a period of sustained pressure which led to an LA yellow card, but they couldn’t make it count, with the American team getting the bounce of the ball and running away with the game, as they scored two more tries to win the game 31-16.

Several Langford residents made appearances on the field, Mayor Stew Young presenting the match ball before kick-off and local singer Jaimey Hamilton performing the national anthems.

“I was pretty nervous because it was a big crowd out there,” said Hamilton. “Performances have cut down, pretty much in half, but I’ve still been able to perform at restaurants. I hope people liked (my performance) and this is the first rugby game I’ve been to, so I’m excited.”

Fans Matt Michael and Aaron Clark watch the international rugby sevens tournament in Vancouver every year but said it was exciting to have professional rugby to watch on the Island.

“It’s super nice to have a professional game come down here to Langford,” said Michael.

The Toronto Arrows are now 0-2 on the season after losing their opening game to Seattle last week. They play New Orleans Gold in their next game, down in Louisiana.

ALSO READ: BC’s first ever Major League Rugby Match coming to Langford


 

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