Vancouver Invitational Returns for 2017

We’re back! The Vancouver Invitational Wheelchair Rugby Tournament is returning to the Vancouver Oval in March. It’s been a long break since the end of the 2016 Paralympics, and we’re excited to get back into the mix.

We’re already set to see the Seattle Slam, the Portland Pounders, Team BC, two clubs from Japan, and an Ontario club make an appearance. Registrations aren’t closed yet, so stay tuned, as a bunch of clubs are expected to sign on shortly.

If you haven’t seen wheelchair rugby yet, you can always go catch a game at the Richmond Oval. The Vancouver Wheelchair Rugby League hosts public games from time to time; they’re an awesome watch to watch some of the best athletes in the world for free.

Got any questions about wheelchair rugby? Hit me up in the comments!

Canadian Wheelchair Rugby Squads

As you have probably guessed, we’ll have some Canadian teams too. With only a few days left before we start seeing some awesome wheelchair rugby, I’ve been handed a number of Canadian roster changes and even a trade! Below is the list of substitutions.

Alberta Roughnecks
-Removed Zak “Canada’s Posterboy for Wheelchair Rugby” Madell.
– Removed Rob Macissac
– Removed Ken Hicks
– Removed Allan Chartrand

Team BC
– Added Travis Murao

Ontario (Split into two teams last week)
Burlington Fighting Squirrels
– Removed Jason Crone
– Removed Joe Boudreau
London Annihalators
– Picked up Ian Crowe from Burlington for conditional future considerations
(If London goes the distance, Dave Willsie needs to give Cody Caldwell his charizard.)

The Alberta Roughnecks will likely be playing a longer bench without Zak Madell. He’s not only a scoring threat for the Roughnecks, but he chews up a lot of minutes, often playing entire games. Keep an eye on relative newcomer Branden  Troutman. He’s a 3.5 who, like Zak Madell, has a background in wheelchair basketball and often cites him as an influence.

Team BC has a long, long roster, and it’ll be interesting to see how they manage their lineup in front of the hometown crowd. The newest player to crack the squad is young Joel Ewert. He (also) has a wheelchair basketball background and has been playing wheelchair sports since he was 5 years old, often training in his hometown Prince George with Canada Winter Games teammate Avril Harris. Team BC also boasts 3 national team members in Travis Murao, Trevor Hirschfield, and “Mean Mean” Byron Green. Trevor Hirschfield missed last year’s Vancouver Invitational due to injury; and his absence sorely felt. He’s one of the strongest defensive players in the game, and outperforms his class when throwing and receiving. Who knows. We may even get another Trev and Trav Wheelchair Rugby Talk out of the tournament. It’s been too long.

The recently named Burlington Fighting Squirrels need a logo, because who doesn’t want a shirt with a fighting squirrel?

I would pay real money.
I know I do.

The Squirrels also have 3 national team veterans, including Mike Whitehead. Don’t sell him short on speed, but he can use his large frame to trouble would-be passers. He also hits notoriously hard, and is a common cause of trouble for opposing teams. The only weak point on this lineup; with only five players, they’ll be stacking up a lot of minutes over the course of the 3-day tournament.

The Annihalators may not score as highly on my list of wanted t-shirts, but that’s a terrible metric for this team anyhow. Veterans like Dave Willsie and Garrett Hickling have been playing well before the Murderball days, and they’ve got Olympic-hopeful Kristen Cameron along with them. She’s one of a handful of female players in the game, and she’s been working her tail off to find a way onto the deep Canadian roster for the 2016 Rio Paralympics. Look for a strong showing here – she’s turning as many heads as she can with only a few months to spare.

Last, but definitely not least, we have the Québec team. When you have Fabien Lavoie, Patrice Simard, and Yanick Racicot on your team, you’re in good hands. With Fabien being the only high-pointer (3.0) on the team, expect him to play entire games.

Looking forward to seeing you all there! Two days! Eek!

USQRA is also coming.

Since missing the 2014 Canada Cup (also held at the Richmond Olympic Oval and presented by BC Wheelchair Sports and the Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association), the USA national team has fallen off the podium. Fans were stunned, when at the 2012 Canada Cup, USQRA (United States Quad Rugby Association) were handed their first sanctioned defeat in nearly a decade. (You can watch that game here, btw. It’s one of my favourites.) Japan became the second nation, ever, to beat a then-impenetrable USA squad. Times have changed. The USA briefly slipped all the way to 3rd place internationally after a disappointing 2014 Worlds, and has been held to 2nd place since April 2015. With Rio right around the corner, we’ve got 3 American clubs topped to the brim with experienced Paralympians. Let’s meet some clubs.

The Seattle Slam have been staples at the Vancouver Invitational, and they have a cheering squad willing to cross the border to fire the club up. New additions to the squad Michael Lykins (2.0) and Brian Moore (2.0) will be ones to watch out for. Daisuke Ikezaki, of the Japanese national team, will be playing for Team Seattle for the duration of the tournament. He’s one of the fastest and most complete players in the game, and was instrumental in helping Team Japan defeat Great Britain at the BT World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge last fall for a 4th place tournament finish. Ike trains with the Slam, and you can expect him to get a good ribbing when Japan and Seattle compete. The Slam will also be looking forward to an early match against the Portland Pounders; they’ll be playing them in the USQRA Pacific Sectionals from March 18th – 20th on home soil.

And then there’s the Portland Pounders. Led by longterm national team member (and two-time Paralympic medalist) Seth McBride, these guys are also regulars at the Vancouver Invitational. They narrowly lost to the Slam during the inaugural Cascadia Cup over the weekend, a tournament in which Will Groulx slid back into action with the Pounders for the first time in (at least) a year. Max Woodbury will be another familiar face; he’s been playing with the Pounders for 19 years.

The Stripes round out the American clubs coming to the tournament, and ho-boy. I think every other club in the tournament is going to have their hands full playing against this stacked lineup. All seven members are part of the USA national wheelchair rugby team, and they’re reasonably well rounded too, with enough low & midpoint players to get substitutions throughout the game. This hodgepodge of veterans has everything to lose here.

Edit – The story has been updated on two points;

(1) The USA Eagles has renamed themselves USA Stripes to avoid a conflict with the able-bodied club with the same name, and

(2) to properly reflect USQRA’s IWRF ranking, because I goofed. 

Team Japan & Team Germany are coming for a visit.

Are you excited? Get excited. The Vancouver Invitational is set to feature two national clubs this year, as both Team Germany and Team Japan will be joining us at the 2016 Vancouver Invitational.

Team Japan has made a huge push this year after a four point upset at the IWRF Asia-Oceania tournament moved them into 3rd place internationally. The tournament was held in Chiba, Japan; you can watch that game on Youtube. It was the first time Japan had ever won the tournament, and you can hear the appreciative crowd get a bit crazy near the end. To make things easier for all of us, there will only be one “Ike” playing for Japan at the Vancouver Invitational, as Daisuke Ikezaki will be playing for the Seattle Slam.  Guys like Yukinobu Ike and Shin Nakazato will be on hand to pick up the slack, as there’s no shortage of experienced and dangerous mid-class players on Team Japan.

Germany may be looking to get some games under their belts as their local Bernd Best Tournament was unfortunately cancelled for the year. Germany is sitting in 9th place in the world, and could use a strong showing at the Vancouver Invitational. They’re looking to perform well at the IWRF 2016 Paralympic Qualifier in April in order to snag one of the two remaining spots that would send them off to the Rio Paralympics.

Entrance to the Vancouver Invitational will (as always) be by donation and is within walking distance of Lansdowne Station (if that’s your jam.) You can find more information on getting to the tournament here, you can find more British Columbia wheelchair rugby news here, and we are still accepting applications for volunteers. Come join us! You’ll get to meet me. Or maybe even head referee Kevin Bowie. You just never know.


Want to help out? We’re looking for volunteers for the Vancouver Invitational from March 11th through the 13th. It’s a great way to get some work experience in and watch some of the best wheelchair rugby clubs in the world battle it out right at the Richmond Olympic Oval.

Volunteers can play a variety of roles, including the following departments:

Penalty box
Food service
Set-up and takedown
Beer garden

If you are interested in being a table official, we will be offering a training session at the Richmond Oval on Monday, February 15th, 2016 from 6:30 – 10:00 pm. These scrimmages will include our local Paralympians so you will get to experience some high quality matches! Please email Lisa Myers by Feb. 11th if you want to attend this training opportunity.

To sign up, click here. If you have questions, email Michelle McDonell (BCWSA intern extraordinaire!) or call her @ 604-333-3520 ext. 208.

C’mon. Agatha Christie was a volunteer. Who doesn’t want to be like Agatha Christie?

Congrats to the Phoenix Heat!

Thanks to everyone who has watched, supported, and helped at the 16th annual Vancouver Invitational! Congratulations to the Phoenix Heat, who went undefeated in the tournament to win 1st place.

It’s been an absolute blast, and we look forward to having everyone out next year.

1st Place – Phoenix Heat
2nd Place – Ontario Lightning
3rd Place – Seattle Slam Div. 1

Seth McBride: Most Clutch
Jeremy Hannaford: Best Picker
Mike Whitehead: Most Heart
Jim Roberts: MVP

Friday, Day 1

On Day 1, we’ll be gearing up to watch the Phoenix Heat, the #2 ranked club in the USQRA (United States Quad Rugby Association) take on the Ontario Lightning in the first match of the day.. Nearly the entire Phoenix club has been invited to participate at the USA Wheelchair Rugby selection camp. Scott Hogsett, Joe Delagrave, and Nick Springer also appeared in the 2012 London Paralympics, where they USA took bronze. The Ontario Lightning are no slouches either – their roster features longtime Canadian national team staple Garrett Hickling and paralympian Jason Crone.

On court B, we have the Ontario Thunder facing off against the Alberta Roughnecks. The Thunder will be working hard to contain the speedy Zak Madell, considered one of the most dominant players in the world.

We have a lot of games over the weekend, so check back as we update with scores and stories, and if you’re in the area, get over here!

Congrats Seattle Slam!

Congratulations to the Seattle Slam for placing 1st in the Pacific Sectionals Quad Rugby Tournament and advancing to Nationals! Also in attendance were the Portland Pounders, who finished 5th in the tournament. Both clubs will only have a week to rest before heading to Vancouver to battle Team BC (unofficially referred to as the BC Bandits).

Team Seattle has an impressive roster featuring Japanese national team member Daisuke Ikezaki. He’s a class-3.0, and is known for both his agility and his endurance on the court. He often plays entire games for Team Japan.

The Seattle Slam and the Portland Pounders are not the only two American clubs appearing. The tournament will also feature strong competition from the Phoenix Heat, ranked 2nd in the country by the USQRA in January.

I can’t believe we’re only a few days away. See you on Friday!