Quinn Ngawati and the SMUS Blue Jags claimed The Boot spoils in 2017. (Photo by Kyle Slavin property of SMUS athletics 2020. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Rugby

B.C. high school rugby 2020: As ‘The Boot’ classic enters its second quarter-century, SMUS vs. Oak Bay gets a TV audience

VICTORIA — One of the gems of the B.C. high school rugby calendar becomes less of a secret outside of the provincial capital beginning this season.

That’s because Thursday’s 26th playing of the annual Boot Game (6:30 p.m.) between storied rivals St. Michaels University School Blue Jags and Oak Bay Barbarians at historic Centennial Stadium on the campus of the University of Victoria, will be seen through a schedule of re-broadcasts later this month on Shaw TV.

If you want to see it live, however, you need to be at the stadium, where the day’s card opens with a girls 7s game at 5:45 p.m. between SMUS and Oak Bay.

Fresh from supporting Canada’s bronze medal-winning national team at the Vancouver 7s will be none other than Gareth Rees, who fittingly will do the colour commentary alongside play-by-play broadcaster Spencer Robinson.

Fitting because the Boot Game started in 1995 as a partnership between SMUS and Rugby Canada alum Rees and Oak Bay and Rugby Canada player and coach Gary Johnston. And the game’s trophy is a bronzed rugby boot worn by Rees himself.

After the first quarter century the overall records sits at 13-11-1 in the Barbs’ favour.

And while neither school has ever won more than four matches in a row over the course of the series, upsets have almost become the norm.

In 2014, heavily-favoured Oak Bay fell 22-14 to SMUS, and in 2015, Oak Bay rallied from 22-0 at halftime to win 26-22.

Shaw TV will rebroadcast Thursday’s twin bill five times between March 17-22 throughout Vancouver Island.

BCSSRU commissioner Walter van Halst said that Shaw’s rebroadcast schedule for The Boot game across the rest of the province was still being determined.

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