Canada West Rugby Preview

Pandas visit UBC and Victoria in Week 1 action
Canada West Communications | Thu Sep 14, 2017

Highlights:

- Alberta travels to UBC (Friday, Sept. 15) and Victoria (Sunday, Sept. 17) to open the 2017 Canada West rugby 15's season
- Lethbridge and Calgary open their seasons in a week, as the Alberta rivals meet in Lethbridge
- The 2017 CW championship goes Oct. 20-22 in Calgary, before the U SPORTS national tournament in Lethbridge Nov. 2-5.

EDMONTON – A pair of West Coast matchups kick off the 2017 Canada West (CW) rugby season this weekend, as the Alberta Pandas travel to UBC and Victoria to open a new year of conference play.

COMPLETE RUGBY SCHEDULE

The Pandas, who finished third in the conference regular season a year ago, take on UBC Friday (4 p.m. PDT), before travelling to Vancouver Island to take on the Victoria Vikes Sunday (11:30 a.m. PDT).

Both the Lethbridge Pronghorns and defending CW champion Calgary Dinos open conference play next week, when a pair of inter-provincial rivalries take centre stage, as the Dinos and ‘Horns open the season Thursday, Sept. 21, while Victoria hosts UBC Sunday, Sept. 24.

Unsurprisingly, the Dinos enter the season the favourites to repeat, topping the conference’s annual pre-season coaches poll with 16 points – the maximum total available. Calgary earned the program’s first CW title last season and returns a strong core of veterans, led by fifth-years DeLeaka Menin, who was the 2016 CW MVP and part of Canada’s recent squad at the Women’s Rugby World Cup, and Emily Tuttosi, who was a CW all-star a year ago.

For the second consecutive season, the CW championship runs through southern Alberta, as Calgary hosts the four-team tournament Oct. 20-22 after Lethbridge hosted the event a year ago.

Speaking of Lethbridge, that’s where the nation’s top university rugby 15s teams will look for U SPORTS gold November 2-5, as the ‘Horns host the event for the second time ever after being crowned national champions on home turf back in 2008.

2017 CW women’s rugby pre-season coaches poll
Place / Team / Points (First-place votes)

Calgary / 16 (4)
Victoria / 13 (1)
Alberta / 8
Lethbridge / 7
UBC / 6

NOTES: First-place vote worth 4 pts., second-place worth 3 pts. etc.

Alberta Pandas

2016 CW regular season record: 2-2, 3rd
2016 post-season record: 1-1, 3rd 
Last CW championship / total CW championships: 2014 / 11
Last U SPORTS championship / total U SPORTS championships: 2013 / 6

2016 CW regular season ranks:

Offence: 109 points, 3rd
Defence: 146 points against, 3rd

2016 CW regular season leaders:

Points: 20 – Amee Svatos, #8
Tries: 4 – Amee Svatos, #8
Converts: 7 – Sarah Farley, Centre 

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team): 

Courtney Holtkamp/ #8/ 1st/ Rimbey, AB/ U18 Team Canada
Lora Lee/ Full Back/ 1st/ Rimbey, AB/ Red Deer Titans
Heidi Peake/ Wing/ 1st/ Edmonton, AB/ Edmonton Lep-Tigers

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

Amee Svatos/ #8/ Canby, Oregon/ 5
Amanda Smith/ Scrum Half/ Sherwood Park, AB/ 5
Sara Haring/ Lock/ Sturgeon County, AB/ 5 

Key performer:

Ferris Sandboe
5th-year
Centre
La Glace, AB

The University of Alberta Pandas will field one of their youngest rosters this season, but they won’t be without their veteran leadership, which will come from fifth-year Centre Ferris Sandboe. Sandboe represents the only fifth-year on the Pandas this season, and her leadership and talent will go a long way in deciding if the Pandas can snap their two-year title drought. Veterans Ali Wicklum, Alexa Martin, and recruit Courtney Holtkamp will also be counted upon this season as the Pandas aim for their record 12th Canada West championship.

About Canada West:

Canada West (CW) is the leading university athletic conference in the country and is home to champion student-athletes that excel in the classroom and their communities. Canada West and our 17 members from across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba collectively carry on a legacy of competitive excellence, as our champions proudly go on to represent the conference at U SPORTS national championships.

Canada West – training leaders, building champions