Rugby at Richardson Stadium

Hosting Churchill Cup matches in June 2008 a first for Kingston

Richardson Stadium will host two games of North America’s biggest international rugby tournament this summer. The Barclays Churchill Cup announced yesterday the 2008 tournament—featuring Canada, the U.S., Ireland A, Scotland A, the England Saxons and a still to-be-determined team—will touch down in Kingston June 11. The rest of the games will be played in Toronto, Ottawa and Chicago.

Tournament Director Terry Burwell said Kingston was included as part of Rugby Canada’s desire to expand the game in this area.

“Clearly, in proposing Kingston as part of that, they saw an opportunity to develop the sport here,” he said. “The opportunity for us to leave a legacy in a town such as Kingston is an important part of our objectives.”

Burwell said Richardson Stadium was attractive to the organizers for several reasons.

“First of all, the size—we were looking for a venue that could comfortably seat 5,000,” he said. “We talked to our broadcast partners about which venues you can actually broadcast easily from. It’s going all around the world to 40 different countries, so our partners need to be able to have a base, and Queen’s stadium actually has that facility.”

Burwell said the local rugby connections make Kingston an attractive area for the tournament.

“We’ve got 10 high schools playing here, and Queen’s themselves, with a big semifinal coming up this weekend,” he said. “Generally… you watch what you play, and we feel that community’s actually going to embrace and engage with this.”

John Phelan, an assistant professor in the School of Business and the chair of the Kingston organizing committee, said the tournament will need a wide range of support to be successful.

“We need the whole rugby community—Queen’s, the [Kingston] Panthers, St. Lawrence, and RMC,” he said.

Phelan said the Churchill Cup is one of the world’s premier rugby tournaments.

“In North America, this is the biggest rugby tournament—second to none,” he said. “Worldwide, you would have the Tri-Nations Cup, the Six Nations Cup. It’s arguably in the top four or five tournaments.”

Phelan said this event will help sell more students and Kingston community members on rugby.

“It’s a great sport, supportable, and everybody can play it,” he said.

Phelan said he hopes to draw the students that are still in town for the summer out to the game.

“If it was during the year, we’d expect to have a large number of Queen’s students, because we know they really love rugby, but being June, we’ll attract the ones that are here.”

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