Queen’s to host 2020 Men’s Rugby Championship

Two national rugby championships slated for next November

Queen’s men’s rugby has home field advantage next year.
Credit: 
Petrus Engelbrecht

The Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship (CUMRC) is coming to Queen’s. Kingston, now set to host two national rugby championships next November, will become Canadian rugby’s mecca for a month.

Slated for November 25 to 29, it will follow closely on the heels of the women’s U SPORTS Championship that's being held at Nixon Field a few weeks prior.

Jeff Chan, co-founder and chairman of CUMRC, spoke with The Journal on Tuesday when the news broke.

“Based on the way that Queen’s men's rugby team has performed over the last few years, actually for quite a few years, and what I knew to be the home of a great sports culture in Queen’s, [we decided] they would be a preferred partner in 2020.”

Chan said after talks with senior leadership at Queen’s Athletics & Recreation, they concluded Queen’s would put together a bid. “They discussed the bid with our organization and we decided to accept the bid," he continued.

Chan emphasized the importance of the tournament’s selection process, as the hosting team automatically qualifies for entry. “We need to ensure that [host] schools have very good teams, so that's why Queen’s was a logical choice,” said Chan.

“One of the reasons we founded this tournament was the sense of frustration that, here we have these great teams at Queen’s, but their season ends after the OUA Championship, unlike pretty much any other sport.”

The CUMRC is a surprisingly novel advent—this year’s championship, to be held in Montreal later this month, is only its third iteration. As far as Canadian university rugby goes, it has no precedent.

Despite the fact women’s rugby is included under the U SPORTS umbrella—the national governing body of university sport in Canada—men’s rugby has never before been given the distinction.

This is something Chan is trying to rectify. He says in approximately two to three years, his CUMRC will provide enough credence to men’s rugby’s case that it will be accepted by U SPORTS.

According to Chan, the inclusion of a men’s rugby division in U SPORTS would pay great dividends for Canadian university rugby. Many teams, primarily on either coast, are currently considered clubs and so are hamstrung by a lack of access to resources and appropriate funding.

If there were a men’s rugby division in U SPORTS, these teams are more likely to be converted to varsity teams, which Chan says will improve the national university rugby landscape.

Chan said approximately 60 per cent of the national team is constitued by Canadian university grads, and although that number is impressive, the Canadian national team’s performance on the world stage hasn’t been, which suggests that stronger competition at the university level could be beneficial.

As well as the obvious competitive advantage of playing at home, the Championships are slated to be a big economic plus for the city. 

“The Kingston Tourism people are quite excited about it, and hopefully we can make a real spectacle out of both championships being held together,” Chan said.

With two powerful rugby teams guaranteed to be playing in their respective national championships, November 2020 is shaping up to be an exciting time to be a fan of the Gaels.

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Corrections

November 6, 2019

This article incorrectly stated the percentage of university grads on the Canadian national team is 75 per cent. It is 60 per cent.

The Journal regrets the error.

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