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Canada's lone pro rugby team to host international friendlies in Burnaby

Introducing the Vancouver Highlanders, a not-for-profit organization launching this summer to develop players and expand the sport's Canadian outreach.
The Vancouver Highlanders will square up with some of the world's best rugby countries on Burnaby turf starting June 28, including national teams from Barbados, Brazil and Germany.

Burnaby rugby fans will get to see some of the best players from around the world go toe-to-toe on their own turf this summer.

The Vancouver Highlanders, which is about to kick off its inaugural campaign, will play host to national teams from Barbados, Brazil and Germany at Burnaby Lake Rugby Club starting June 28.

Dubbed the Rugby Player's Challenge (RPC), the friendly showcase hopes to grow the game in Canada its only professional club, the Toronto Arrows, folded from Major League Rugby (MLR) last November.

The Highlanders are taking over that mantle despite being a not-for-profit organization and with no affiliation with MLR or Rugby Canada.

However, the team's mantra remains the same — expand rugby's Canadian outreach and develop athletes looking to go above and beyond their own talents.

"Vancouver has a long, proud tradition in rugby, and we’re excited to add to it by bringing international rugby to the city," said Highlanders co-founder Curry Hitchborn. 

"With summer weather, a festival atmosphere, and an amazing venue, the Rugby Players Challenge is going to be the season’s can’t miss sports event."

Vancouver will play five matches at Burnaby Lake Rugby Club (3760 Sperling Ave.):

  • June 28 @ 4:30 p.m. vs. Canada Selects
  • June 28 @ 7 p.m. vs Barbados national team
  • July 20 @ 5 p.m. vs. German national team
  • Aug. 3 @ 5 p.m. = Brazilian national team
  • Aug. 17 @ 5 p.m. = Canada XV national team

The Highlanders are hoping to make its Burnaby visit an annual event with the help of BC Rugby Union and its member clubs to local fans can take in all the action as close as possible.

"It’s going to be an ideal environment to incubate and develop the next generation of rugby players and professional people," added Hitchborn, also the former coach of UBC's men’s rugby team.

Fans are set to endure a "festival atmosphere" for each RPC contest. This includes bagpipes, DJs, food vendors and a fan zone.

For more information, you can visit the Vancouver Highlanders' website.