The Williams Lake Rustlers Rugby Football Club are one of four teams headed to Penticton this weekend to contest for the 2013 Saratoga Cup.
The men’s Independent Provincial Club Championship features teams from the Okanagan, Central, Kootenays and Lower Mainland/Vancouver Island regions competing in a two-day championship at McNicol Rugby Oval.
Current holders, Penticton, were eliminated from the playoffs this year and the Okanagan Rugby Union will now be represented by West Kelowna-Salmon Arm reps, Manthers RFC.
Also, the Delta-based Brit Lions — the 2012 runner-ups — will be returning for a second straight appearance at the championships.
Williams Lake enters the tournament as the third seed, while BC Rugby Union newcomers Elk Valley Rugby Football Club – a team comprised of players from Fernie, Sparwood, Elkford and Crowsnest Past — will be debuting at the tournament as the fourth seed.
Semifinals get underway on Saturday with the placement rounds set for Sunday morning.
The Rustlers play their tournament opener Saturday at 4 p.m. versus the Brit Lions.
The Rustlers finished their regular season with three wins and one loss, and also finished first at the Williams Lake Stampede Rugby Tournament.
Williams Lake coach Todd Pritchard said the Rustlers’ mix of veteran and rookie players continues the true tradition of third-division rugby.
“We’re bringing a real mix of young and old … and are looking forward to a great weekend both on and off the pitch,” Pritchard said.
“Players to watch for the weekend for Williams Lake are Riley Ilnicki and Anthony Faggiani who have both been outstanding in the forwards and Jordan Pritchard and Sky Freeman have excelled in the backs.”
The Rustlers, to date this year, have compiled a total record of 17 wins, eight losses and one tie.
“Good luck to all the teams making the trip to participate in the Saratoga Cup!” Pritchard added.