Oak Bay’s own Lochie Kratz and Crosby Stewart of the UVic Vikes host Queens Gaels in their first game of the 2018 U Sports men’s rugby nationals at UVic. Game 1 is Thursday, 2 p.m. at Wallace Field. Game 2 is Friday, 6 p.m. at Centennial Stadium. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Vikes ready for Queen’s in Game 1 of national men’s rugby championship

From mid-terms to national championships, it’s a rugby life

The big year continues for Lockie Kratz.

In the past six months Kratz has graduated from Oak Bay High Barbarians, played for Rugby Canada at the World Rugby Under 20 Trophy in Romania, started as the UVic Vikes outside centre (No. 13) as a first-year and is now set to face the Ontario university champion Queen’s Gaels as the Vikes host the Canadian Men’s University Rugby Championships, Nov. 21 to 24.

The tourney starts Wednesday with the defending 2017 national champion UBC Thunderbirds facing Concordia at noon and the Gaels facing University of New Brunswick Ironmen.

“Queen’s are going to be a good first test,” Kratz said, noting they’re now the back-to-back Ontario division champions.

In one of their final training sessions ahead of nationals the Vikes’ backs and forwards split, with the backs training in a sevens format against Rugby Canada’s men’s sevens team. The visit was prompted by Rugby Canada, as they’re flying to Dubai for next week’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series on Saturday. That meant Kratz was running against Canada’s veterans on the international scene, former Philadelphia Eagles tight end Adam Zaruba, and veteran Nathan Hirayama, among others.

Read More: Great year for Vikes despite going winless at women’s nationals

“With [Rugby Canada] it’s fast, it’s tiring, you switch on for training,” Kratz said. “It’s physically demanding but [rugby is] what I want to do.”

Kratz is one of two Oak Bay grads who’ll likely start against Queen’s on Thursday and then against UNB on Friday. Scrum half Crosby Stewart, a 2013 Barbarian grad, is in his fourth year and will be relied on heavily to lead a fast-paced Vikes attack.

“The goal is definitely to make it back into the final,” said Stewart, who’s also played for James Bay and the Canada Maple Leafs sevens development team.

The Vikes will need to win both matches to advance to the gold medal game which is 1 p.m. on Sunday.

(Inset: 2017 national final UVic vs. UBC in Guelph, Ont.)

Last year the Vikes did advance to the final but lost to the UBC Thunderbirds during a snowy final in Guelph, Ont. This time around, they hope to change that.

“It’s the only time we get to play against the eastern schools, so it’s pretty fun,” Stewart said. “We want to win.”

It’s also not lost on the student athletes that they’re able to study from home this week and aren’t living out of a hotel, missing classes.

“Right before final exams, and I had mid terms last week, but school’s kind of on the wind down,” Kratz said.

“I still have lab reports and assignments due,” said Stewart, who’s hoping to finish his bachelor in chemistry in 2019.

The Vikes men’s rugby team have a 3-4 record in the BC Premier League. They’re coming off a win in dramatic fashion this past weekend against Westshore. Victoria was down 22-5 at half time but came back to win by scoring five tries in the second half for a 32-29 victory.

U Sports 2018 Men’s Rugby Nationals schedule at UVic

Wednesday, Nov. 21

12 p.m. UBC vs. Concordia @ Wallace Field

2 p.m. Queen’s vs. UNB @ Wallace Field

Thursday, Nov. 22

12 p.m. UBC vs. Guelph @ Wallace Field

2 p.m. Queen’s vs. Victoria @ Wallace Field

Friday, Nov. 23

4 p.m. Guelph vs. Concordia @ Centennial Stadium

6 p.m. Victoria vs. UNB @ Centennial Stadium

Saturday, Nov. 24

2 p.m. 5th Place Final @ Wallace Field

Sunday, Nov. 25

11 a.m. Bronze Medal Game @ Centennial Stadium

1 p.m. Gold Medal Game @ Centennial Stadium

reporter@saanichnews.com


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