The first rugby match to take place at the newly renovated Westhills Stadium will be one for the community and for Rugby Canada as the team prepares to head to the World Cup in Japan in September.
Rugby Canada plays an exhibition match against a team of B.C. all-stars on Aug. 30, giving the national players a chance to get more game time before Japan. The B.C. All-Stars team will consist of top amateur players based within the province.
“This is a crucial game to play,” said Gareth Rees, a former international rugby player who now works with Rugby Canada. “It’s our final game before selection is made for which 31 players will go to Japan.”
Rees, who is the first and only Canadian in the World Rugby Hall of Fame, said this match is a big deal for the players, but also for the community.
Canada qualified for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in the last and 20th spot. The team will be in Pool B and faces off against Italy on Sept. 26 in Fukoka, Japan.
Since the team was playing in Hamilton during the Westhills Stadium grand opening, Friday’s match will be a way to celebrate with supporters and community members on home turf before the national team travels to Vancouver to play USA Rugby.
“It’s going to be a festival of rugby,” Rees said.
An inter-squad game with Pacific Pride, Rugby Canda’s new performance academy, will kick off Friday night’s festivities. The big game starts shortly after with opportunities for photos and autographs with players post-game. While families are being welcomed with open arms, a beer garden will also be set up.
“We are indebted to this community…it’s our home and we wanted to have a chance to celebrate,” Rees said. “This weekend families can come and enjoy a great new stadium and watch Rugby Canada.”
Gates for the Rugby World Cup send-off match open at 4:15 p.m. on Aug. 30. The inter-squad game will take place at 4:30 p.m. and kick off for the big match is at 6:30 p.m. A meet and greet with the Canadian team will be after the match.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for youth and can be purchased at the reception desk for City Centre Park located at the Eagle Ridge Centre. Ticket purchases are cash only.
For more information, visit the Rugby Canada website.