After going undefeated during the qualification rounds, the men’s rugby team started the CDI Premier League season with a 37-30 win against the University of Victoria Vikes to capture their third straight Wightman Boot.
“Words can’t describe how proud I am of these guys. I would have never figured when we started this that we would be able to win one, let alone two and now three,” said Rameses Langston, the Thunderbirds' head coach.
UBC was first to get onto the scoreboard early in the game with a penalty try to take a 7-0 lead, but it quickly vanished as UVic responded with a try and a penalty kick to make it 8-7.
With the T-Birds trailing, UBC lock Connor Hamilton managed to find the ball for a try as the team pushed over a scrum near the Vikes goal line. With an additional try by wing Theo Sauder and kick by centre Brock Staller, the score at the end of the first half was 24-8 in favour of the ’Birds.
At the start of the second, Staller got another kick to increase UBC’s lead to 27-8, but a few minutes later, Victoria scored a try after a yellow card against T-Birds back row Connor Weyell for offside near the UBC goal line, narrowing the lead to 27-15.
UVic then saw its share of dominance as they scored two more tries without successful converts to make the score 28-25, one of which was on a continuous 60-yard run.
“UVic is an outstanding program. They have tons of class and lots of elite athletes, so you had to expect that this was going to be tough,” said Langston.
With the two teams now three points apart, the T-Birds got a try from centre James Thompson and another penalty kick from Staller before the Vikes answered with a try of their own to finish the game.
Before going into the Wightman Boot, UBC last faced Victoria during the 2015 Rounsfell Cup, where the T-Birds won 52-22. Like the T-Birds, the Vikes also entered the game with an undefeated record during the qualification round.
“Both teams are balanced, both teams have strengths. We just wanted to play our game and hopefully come out with a win,” said Langston.
Named after Brian Wightman, a former UBC rugby coach, the Wightman Boot is an annual match that has been played between the T-Birds and Vikes since the 1967-68 season. Unlike in previous years, which consisted of two games, this year’s Wightman Boot had only one game.
With the victory against UVic, UBC now extends its winning streak to nine games. Their next opponent will be Capilano RFC.