The Okanagan Rugby Union (ORU) has been around since the 1970's. In recent years, it has focused on operating a summer league for men's teams in the Okanagan. Penticton, Vernon, and Salmon Arm have been the mainstays of this league. Kelowna's focus has been on lower mainland leagues, where rugby is played for 8 months (September to April) and long-distance travel is part of the game.
The range of rugby opportunities is about to expand for adult Kelowna rugby athletes. At an ORU meeting in March, Chuck Bullock from the Crows offered to examine the possibility of a Kelowna-based team joining the league. Sam Billingsley picked up on the opportunity, and, working with the Kelowna Crows and the ORU teams, has entered a Kelowna team in the summer ORU league.
"This team wants to achieve two things," said Sam Billingsley, team organizer. "It intends to provide rugby players with a place to enjoy their sport with less travel and wants to provides one more opportunity for rugby to be played in the Okanagan."
The team has 5 games scheduled for the summer, all within the Okanagan Valley. The tentative schedule is listed below. There may be one more home game added against Penticton, and perhaps participation in one or two Okanagan-based tournaments.
April 28 - @ Penticton
May 5 - Home to Vernon
May 26 - @ Vernon
June 2 - @ Salmon Arm
June 16 - Home to Salmon Arm
June 23 - Playoffs
July 7 - Playoffs
"We believe there are a bunch of locals who, for one reason or another, cannot make the commitment to participating in a lower mainland league. We expect to see young parents, more experienced veteran players, home-for-the-summer university players, and/or graduating high school students who will be interested in joining our summer team."
Practices begin formally in May, once-a-week on Thursdays at 6:30 PM at Parkinson P10. All interested players are welcome. The first formal practice is May 3. Billingsley says the team is less structured in its preparation for their first game.
"For the time leading up to the game on April 28th, we're getting together at a local park and going to throw a ball around, said Billingsley. "Interested players can text me at 250-551-5468 for more information."