Gilles Lepine (left), senior athletics director at UBC, kids with Clint Hamilton, director of UVic athletics and recreation as their schools prepare to battle it out for the first ever Legends Cup series. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS

UVic, UBC rivalry gets official status with launch of Legends Cup

Bragging rights, coveted trophy on the line in new series between longstanding rivals

The rivalry between athletes from UVic and UBC is nothing new, but the Legends Cup, a new competition launched Tuesday marks the first year one of the schools will walk away with the official bragging rights the two universities have been taunting one another with for decades.

“This rivalry can be traced back to the early 1900s,” said Clint Hamilton, director of Vikes Athletics and Recreation. “A tradition began where people from [UBC] would travel across the waters for what they called the Victoria invasion.”

The Legends Cup will be awarded annually to either UVic or UBC based on a season-long series of competitions between teams in basketball, cross country, field hockey, rugby sevens, rowing and soccer.

The winning school will be awarded the cup by the athletic director of the losing school.

Laura Dowling, a former UBC women’s field hockey player, said when it came time to choose a school to pursue her athletic career there were really only two choices – UVic or UBC, two schools with the best athletic programs in the country.

She remembers clearly the first time she faced UVic at nationals in Oakville in 2003, when she scored the game-winning goal.

“It was always this energy that came when it was UVic and UBC [playing],” she said, adding the score was always close, a testament to the level of play. “When you raise the level of the challenge, you raise the skills… and the level of pride.”

Because many of the athletes grow up playing with and against one another before reaching university-level play, there is a familiarity and energy that drives the rivalry, said Tracy David, head coach of the Vikes women’s soccer team.

“I can’t tell you how many sleepless nights I have had trying to figure out how to beat UBC,” she said, calling it a “prestigious rivalry” well-known beyond Western Canada.

“It is never difficult to motivate your athletes to play against UBC,” she explained. “UBC brings out the best in us always. They are tough, they are physical, they are competitive. It is the one game that our team looks forward to all year and it is the one game we love to win.”

And, it doesn’t matter the sport, she added.

The series is intended to both honour and inspire current and former athletes, Hamilton said.

“We’re talking about leaders in sport, we’re talking about phenomenal athletes … so the word ‘legends’ quickly came to the surface,” he said.

The Legends Cup Series kicks off this Saturday (Sept. 1) at 2 p.m., when the Vikes women’s soccer team plays host to UBC at Centennial Stadium.

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