The Velox Valhallians are on the precipice of returning to the province’s top rugby competition, the CDI Premier League.
The Valhallians topped the Nanaimo Hornets 46-20 at home on Saturday to win the Cowichan Cup, Tier 2 Island championship.
The Valhallians host the Tier 2 provincial semifinal on Saturday, 3 p.m., against Abbotsford. The winner advances to the B.C. final and a chance at promotion to the eight-team CDI Premier League.
“When you look at the club’s history we’ve never won a (men’s) B.C. final,” said first year men’s coach Aaron Frisby. The former Velox premier player coached the Velox Valkyries to the B.C. women’s championship last year.
“It’s a big ask but it’s expected of us. When you’re not playing premier rugby the support falls off. It’s hard to get premier quality players when you’re not in the CDI Premier League.”
Abbotsford is 11-4-1 in Tier 2 Mainland play this season after being relegated with just one win in 14 CDI matches last season. Velox was relegated in 2011 and has toiled in Tier 2 the past two seasons in the confusingly named Okanagan Brewery League 1. This year Velox played in the Island’s Tier 2 equivalent Cowichan Cup.
Velox also played two exhibition games against premier sides, losing to Capilano 19-10 and the Castaway Wanderers 32-12.
“Obviously the exhibition scores are not far off, certainly nowhere near some of the lopsided premier scores of late,” Frisby pointed out.
The key is getting premier quality players and national level players. Once the door opens, more will follow. Across town, the James Bay and Castaway Wanderers have both benefitted by bringing in national team players who are here training with Rugby Canada. Velox hasn’t had a sniff of Rugby Canada carded players the past three years despite fielding several in the past.
“We’re looking at other options, including UVic, which we believe has a lot of premier-quality players that don’t get identified because the program is so deep.”
Saturday (May 4) is a triple header for Velox men’s rugby as they host a Div. 3 semifinal vs. the Brit Lions at 11:30 a.m. At 1:15 p.m. Velox faces Abbotsford in the Okanagan Brewery League 2 semifinal.