It was the first-ever trip to the nationals for Trinity Western University Spartans men’s rugby team, and they came within a single point of winning a medal.
The Langley team began by upsetting number-one-ranked Victoria in TWU’s debut at the Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championships at Thunderbird Stadium on Wednesday, Nov. 30, which qualified the Spartans for the national semi-final match against McGill University on Friday, Dec. 2.
McGill won that match, forcing the Spartans into the bronze medal game against Guelph Gryphons on Sunday, Dec. 4.
It was TWU’s first time playing against an Ontario opponent, and it came down to the closing minutes of the game, with Gryphons hanging on to the narrowest of leads to take the game 32-31.
Spartans were boosted by two tries from both Ethan Jurgeneit and Lynden Duggan, who earned player of the game honours at the event.
Matthew Willemse chimed in with six points from the tee, converting on three of five TWU tries on the day.
It was an emotional loss for the Spartans, who posted several images of players reacting to the defeat.
Following the loss to McGill, TWU Director of Rugby Andrew Evans said he was proud of how they played.
“You can watch that game and just see the character of these men,” Evans said.
“I’m certainly proud of them and they have a lot to be proud about themselves. Ultimately, Spartan rugby isn’t about rugby. We use rugby to refine these young men and to make them into the leaders that they ought to be for the rest of their lives. It’s not about the rugby, but we certainly want the rugby to display the type of men that they are and they did that today, so I’m really proud of them.”
Trinity Western, in partnership with the Langley Events Centre and the Township of Langley, will host the 2023 Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship at Willoughby Stadium Nov. 15-19 at the soon-to-be revamped Willoughby Community Park in Langley. The announcement was made Sunday, Dec. 3.
“We are so excited to have the opportunity to host this National Championship,” said TWU Director of Athletics Jeff Gamache. “It is an important step in the evolution of our program and I am thrilled to bring this level of rugby to the Langley area for our great Spartan fans. With a top quality facility as our home base, this will be a can’t miss tournament.”
It will mark the third time the CUMRC has been held in B.C., with the Victoria hosting the event in 2018 and UBC hosting this year.
The CUMRC features eight teams competing for the Spence McTavish Trophy, named after the UBC Rugby legend and former Canadian national team captain.
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