Skip to content

Langford hosts first-ever Major League Rugby game in B.C.

Toronto Arrows felt embraced by West Coast crowd in loss to LA

Major League Rugby touched down in Langford on Friday night (Feb. 11) as the Toronto Arrows lost to the LA Giltinis in the first-ever MLR game hosted on British Columbian soil.

Despite being more than 4,000 kilometres away from their usual stomping grounds, Toronto had the backing of the home crowd, with thousands of fans watching on from the stands at Starlight Stadium. Several of the players on the field have played on the Island with the national team, making the event feel like a homecoming. The same could be said for Toronto Arrows forward James O’Neill, who played for four years at the University of Victoria and said it was exciting to see fans coming out and supporting Canada’s only professional rugby team.

“It’s like we have the best home fans in the whole league because we’ve got a whole country behind us,” he said. “It’s incredible to see and humbling and when I first started playing there wasn’t anything like this. Hopefully, it keeps building.”

Toronto started off well, breaking out to a 10-0 lead after team captain Mike Sheppard charged down a LA kick to dive over under the posts, with kicker Spencer Jones adding a conversion and penalty.

The team continued strongly, and despite two LA tries was winning at half-time 16-12. The Giltinis scored a third try at the 48 minute mark to take the lead for the first time, making it a one-point game at 16-17. Toronto had a period of sustained pressure which led to an LA yellow card, but they couldn’t make it count, with the American team getting the bounce of the ball and running away with the game, as they scored two more tries to win the game 31-16.

Several Langford residents made appearances on the field, Mayor Stew Young presenting the match ball before kick-off and local singer Jaimey Hamilton performing the national anthems.

“I was pretty nervous because it was a big crowd out there,” said Hamilton. “Performances have cut down, pretty much in half, but I’ve still been able to perform at restaurants. I hope people liked (my performance) and this is the first rugby game I’ve been to, so I’m excited.”

Fans Matt Michael and Aaron Clark watch the international rugby sevens tournament in Vancouver every year but said it was exciting to have professional rugby to watch on the Island.

“It’s super nice to have a professional game come down here to Langford,” said Michael.

The Toronto Arrows are now 0-2 on the season after losing their opening game to Seattle last week. They play New Orleans Gold in their next game, down in Louisiana.

ALSO READ: BC’s first ever Major League Rugby Match coming to Langford


Do you have a story tip? Email:

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.