Rugby season number 113 kicks off for Castaway Wanderers

B.C. Premier League men’s season starts Saturday when the Castaway Wanderers host the UVic Vikes

There’s a balance to running a rugby club that is expected to compete amongst the elite teams in the province, but also put up with everyday scheduling conflicts.

Such is community rugby. But this isn’t any rugby community. It’s Oak Bay.

Oak Bay’s Castaway Wanderers rugby club dates back to 1906 and its history is storied. The women’s premier program didn’t even exist until five years ago when it promptly won the B.C. premier title and interrupted the Westshore (Velox Valkyries) women’s Island monopoly.

The B.C. Premier League men’s season starts Saturday when the Castaway Wanderers host the always-dangerous, always fast UVic Vikes at Windsor Park. It starts with the 12:45 p.m. premier men’s reserve game followed by the premier men at 2:45 p.m. CW premier women start Saturday, Sept. 14, versus Westshore, 11 a.m. at Windsor Park, followed by the CW premier men hosting Westshore men at 2:30 p.m.

Ex-national player Jess Dovanne helped coach that CW 2016 champion women’s team and is now the premier women’s head coach. The 2015-16 season was a great start for the CW women’s program but they have yet to make the B.C. premier finals since. This year, again, they have a core of established players. National player Julia Folk at scrum half and provincial player Lauren Sargent at fly half lead a crew of players that include ex-Vikes and others with national aspirations.

“There is a mix of players, some who aspire to the national team, some who just want to play rugby and run around,” Dovanne said.

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Scrum half Julia Folk, coach Jess Dovanne and fly half Lauren Sargent make the C W sign as the Castaway Wanderers premier women’s team readies for the rugby season.
(Travis Paterson/News Staff)

The key is finding balance, but Dovanne also has some strong expectations from her premier squad.

This year the women will start with a premier team and in December, launch a Div. 1 team at a developmental level.

Dovanne is also excited to announce a coaching staff that includes Amy Hawkings, Katie McNally and Rosie Lang, all university varsity players who have now hung up the playing cleats.

Likewise, on the men’s side, longtime CW captain Kenny Goodland, who won multiple provincial championships, is now the forwards coach with head coach Scott Manning.

“We have just over 40 guys which is great for this time of year,” Goodland said.

One of the biggest challenges is fitting in players who can’t always make it to all training sessions, or even matches, Goodland said. CW men have won the last three straight Barnard Cup titles as Island champs but have been unable to turn that into a provincial title.

“It’s a hard balance sometimes, guys have to work, so we know some guys aren’t always available. If we’re adaptable, and flexible, we should be successful,” Goodland said. “There are premier players here who have expectations and aspirations beyond this club and we try to support them in that as best we can.”

That includes what to do during off days between training, and how to develop as an athlete.

However, some guys will get a surprise when it comes to selection time, Goodland said.

“There is always a surprise along the way,” Goodland said. “That’s when they’ll find out they haven’t been working hard enough.”

Canada’s men’s team competing in the Rugby World Cup in Japan features former Castaway Wanderers players Hubert Buydens, Ciaran Hearn, Jake Ilnicki and Djustice Sears-Duru, as well as Oak Bay High grads Phil Mack and Luke Campbell (who both played club with James Bay).

reporter@oakbaynews.com

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