RUGBY: James Bay to test Castaway-Wanderers’ resolve

James Bay and CW rivalry a fight for first in the CDI Premier League

Captured on film circa 2003

Captured on film circa 2003

For the Castaway-Wanderers, last Saturday’s win at MacDonald Park was a dress rehearsal for this weekend.

CW visit James Bay Athletic Association at MacDonald Park on Saturday, with a 2:45 p.m. kickoff.

Because recent heavy rains saturated Windsor Park’s field, CW was forced to relocate last week’s match against the visiting UBC Old Boy Ravens to MacDonald Park in the heart of James Bay. Generally considered enemy territory, CW executed like a home club, defeating the incumbent mainland champion Ravens 17-8.

“We even used the visitor’s dressing room,” CW’s eighthman Kenny Goodland said.

The win was the latest in CW’s run as the best rugby team in the province, atop the CDI Premier League standings with five wins in six games (25 points).

As if they flicked a switch, CW has quickly washed away years of mid-pack finishes and mediocrity in the standings. The current team reminds rugby watchers of the dominating group that won three straight provincial championships from 2000-02.

Regardless, CW has yet to play James Bay since the latter won 42-17 in September. As if the game needs any more hype, CW hasn’t defeated James Bay in the B.C. premier league since 2003.

“(September) was pretty heated so that was a big loss,” current CW scrum half and captain Matt Weingart said.

“They call it the ‘100-years-war,’ we’re looking for payback.”

Weingart is one of many returnees and new players to the team this season.

The former national scrum half who played in the 2003 World Cup took a two-year hiatus to focus on a commerce degree at Royal Roads University.

Not only is CW’s resolve on the line, so is a first round playoff bye. If CW wins they finish the regular season in first. But if James Bay wins, they take first.

Meralomas (4-1) are expected to pull even with either James Bay or CW, assuming the Vancouver club defeats last-place Abbotsford RFC (0-6).

The game at MacDonald park will be a treat for fans, James Bay captain Dave Ramsay said.

“I’m expecting it to be really close, closer than the last time we played when it was in our favour.

“We expect a different game, and for them to challenge us like we haven’t been challenged this year,” added Ramsay.

James Bay’s only loss in the CDI league came to the Meralomas on the road last week, 27-13.

“(JBAA’s) had the same team for so long, it’s always one of the games you look forward to thoughout the season with huge support from both sides,” Weingart said.

As for the rivalry, Ramsay said it doesn’t matter if it’s Velox, CW or any Island team.

“We have a longer history with Oak Bay but as far as rivalry it’s just the same, they’re just another team in the way of us getting where we want.”