The Penticton Harlequins rugby club is getting shot at repeating as Saratoga Cup champs.
The Harlequins will fill in for the Kelowna Crows, who are opening their winter season this weekend after going up to the first and second division. The Harlequins were informed three weeks ago that the Crows could not compete in this weekend’s B.C. Rugby Independent Club Division III championship.
Also competing in the championship will be the Terrace Northmen, Cranbrook, the Kootenay representative, and the Vernon Jackals, winners of the Okanagan Rugby Union.
“The two new teams coming in are pretty strong,” said Harlequins coach Ken Simpson. “They have got lots of bodies. This is the first time in a long time that Terrace has been in provincials. They play Prince George and Williams Lake and Williams Lake is always strong.”
Simpson figures Cranbrook will be strong after beating former two-time Saratoga Cup champions Elk Valley.
As for his own team, Simpson isn’t sure what to expect.
“We have 11 to 12 guys at practice,” he said, adding that other players have made other commitments.
Simpson also isn’t sure what he wants to see from his group other than playing hard and offering each other support.
The Saratoga Cup begins Saturday at McNicoll Oval with Vernon facing Cranbrook at 1 p.m., then the Harlequins and Terrace play at 3 p.m. The winners of each game will play for the championship on Sunday at 1 p.m. The third-place game is set for 11 a.m. Each game will be 80 minutes.