The University of Victoria Vikes will host CIS women’s rugby nationals for the first time since 2005 next season and the road to the championship became a bit clearer on Thursday, as Canada West unveiled the 2016 conference schedule.
Last season saw the Vikes win the first Canada West banner for the first time and sweep all major awards and they’ll be looking to impress again this season, as they host the CIS championship from November 3-6.
The Vikes will open the road to nationals on Sunday, September 18, with a game again West Coast rivals UBC Thunderbirds. UVic got the better of UBC in their only matchup last year on the strength of a two-try performance from Canada West Rookie of the Year Gabrielle Senft.
Week two will see the Vikes welcome the Calgary Dinos to Victoria on September 23. The Dinos were one of three teams to hand the Vikes a loss in CIS play last year, as Calgary picked up a 27-10 victory at Wallace Field on September 27.
Seven days later it’s Alberta’s turn to visit, as the Pandas look to avenge their loss to UVic in last year’s Canada West semi-final. The Vikes bounced back from a loss to Alberta in the final week of the regular season to edge the Pandas 26-20. Chanelle Edwards-Challenger ran in three tries to help the Vikes upset Alberta and snap their three-year streak.
The rematch of the 2015 Canada West finals will have to wait until week four, when Lethbridge looks to snap a three-game losing streak against the Vikes that includes a pair of playoff matchups in 2015.
In total, 10 conference regular season games will be played during the four-week schedule, before the conference championship tournament heads to Lethbridge October 21-23.
After that, the top teams in the country will travel to Victoria to battle it out for national supremacy from November 3-6. The CIS championship is the first of two for the Vikes in 2016-17, as the women’s basketball championship will be held at CARSA in 2017.