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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