Ontario Women's League and Marshall Leagues get underway this weekend
As spring finally peeks its head out, the regular season for Rugby Ontario’s senior provincial leagues will kick off this weekend. New formats and exciting storylines highlight what is bound to be an incredible year for Ontario rugby.
Rugby Ontario operates a Senior Men’s Marshall League as well as a Senior Women’s league known as the Ontario Women’s League (OWL). In 2017, the Brantford Harlequins won the McCormick Cup (Marshall League Title), while the Toronto Saracens were crowned OWL Cup Champions.
Ontario Women’s League
The 2018 OWL Season sees a new format put in place to ease travel of clubs and withstand the strong competition of one of Canada’s premier senior women’s leagues. The league will be split into two conferences – East and West. In the East, four Toronto-based clubs fill out the conference: Toronto Saracens, Toronto Scottish, Markham Irish and Aurora Barbarians. The West Conference includes four strong clubs in the Guelph Redcoats, Toronto Nomads, Waterloo County and Niagara Wasps.
With the two conferences, there will be newly-adopted Crossover Weeks which are dedicated weeks where the East sides visit the West and vice-versa. The OWL Cup Playoffs will begin on Saturday August 11, 2018, with 1 and 2 seeds from each conference booking their ticket. The OWL Cup Finals fall on Saturday August 18, 2018 at Fletcher’s Fields.
In terms of relegation, the bottom teams out of each conference will play the top teams from the branch leagues. The top team from NRU Women’s league will play the bottom team from the OWL West Conference and the top team from the TRU Women’s league will play the bottom team from the OWL East Conference. These matches will be part of the Intermediate Cup and will be a home-and-home series (aggregate score).
The defending champion Toronto Saracens draw the Toronto Scottish first. The Scottish narrowly missed a meeting with the Saracens in the Cup Final last year after losing 27-19 to the Aurora Barbarians in the Semi Finals.
Round 1 OWL Fixtures (Saturday May 12, 2018):
Markham Irish @ Aurora Barbarians – Fletcher’s Fields
Toronto Scottish @ Toronto Saracens – Fletcher’s Fields
Waterloo County @ Niagara Wasps – Niagara Wasps RFC
Guelph Redcoats @ Toronto Nomads – Fletcher’s Fields
For a full list of fixtures, please visit http://www.rugbyontario.com/league/125142/.
For more information on the OWL, please visit http://www.rugbyontario.com/ontario-womens-league/.
For more information on the OWL Cup, please visit http://www.rugbyontario.com/owl-cup/.
Marshall Premiership and Championship
The Marshall Leagues will also have a new format this league. Similar to the OWL, both the Premiership and Championship will be split into East and West conferences. The teams will play within their conference, but will also have designated crossover weeks, where the East and West squads match up.
New to this year will be the Ontario League Playoffs. The Ontario League Playoffs will be at the end of August, beginning on August 11, 2018 and will be a seeding tool for the McCormick Cup playoffs. Clubs ranked 1-4 in the Marshall Premiership will compete for McCormick Cup seeds 1-4, while Premiership clubs ranked 5-8 will compete for seeds 5-8. In the Championship, clubs ranked 1-4 will compete for McCormick Cup seeds 9-12 and those ranked 5-8 in the Championship will play for Seeds 13-16 in the McCormick Cup.
Also new to this year will be a different format for promotion and relegation. One club from the West Championship and one from the East Championship will be promoted, meaning two clubs will face relegation out of the Premiership. As for promotion from branches to the Championship, the top team out of the Niagara Rugby Union will play the bottom teach from the Marshall Championship East and the top team out of the Toronto Rugby Union will play the bottom team from the Marshall Championship West. These matches will be part of the Intermediate Cup and will be a home-and-home series (aggregate score).
Marshall Premiership East:Peterborough Pagans, Toronto Scottish, Lindsay RFC, Balmy Beach.
Marshall Premiership West:Crusaders, Stoney Creek Camels, Brantford Harlequins, Markham Irish
Marshall Championship East:Aurora Barbarians, Oshawa Vikings, Barrie RFC, Ajax Wanderers
Marshall Championship West:Waterloo County, Toronto Nomads, London St. George’s, Burlington Centaurs
The McCormick Cup playoffs will then begin on September 8, 2018 with the Final being played at Fletcher’s Fields on Saturday September 29, 2018.
The defending champion Brantford Harlequins draw the Markham Irish in the first round of the season. Markham finished the year in fourth place in the Marshall Premiership and made it to the semi-finals of the McCormick Cup playoffs where they were defeated 35-10 by the Harlequins. They will be looking for revenge in their season opener.
Round 1 Marshall Premiership Fixtures (Saturday May 12, 2018):
Lindsay RFC @ Balmy Beach – Birchmount Stadium
Peterborough Pagans @ Toronto Scottish – Fletcher’s Fields
Brantford Harlequins @ Markham Irish – Fletcher’s Fields
Crusaders @ Stoney Creek Camels – Saltfleet High School (Rescheduled for June 9, 2018)
Round 1 Marshall Championship Fixtures (Saturday May 12, 2018)
Ajax Wanderers @ Barrie RFC – Jim Hamilton Field
Aurora Barbarians @ Oshawa Vikings – Thompson Park
Burlington Centaurs @ London St. George’s – London St George’s RFC
Toronto Nomads @ Waterloo County – Waterloo Oxford SS
For a full list of fixtures, please visit http://www.rugbyontario.com/league/124940/.
For more information on the Marshall Leagues, please visit http://www.rugbyontario.com/marshall-leagues/.
For more information on the McCormick Cup, please visit http://www.rugbyontario.com/mccormickcup/.
ABOUT RUGBY ONTARIO
Rugby Ontario is the provincial sports governing body responsible for the organization of rugby in Ontario. Our mission is to establish a stronger identity for rugby in Ontario by promoting the sport’s core values and by fostering a culture of inclusiveness and excellence on and off the field of play.
To learn more, visit http://www.rugbyontario.com/
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Communications Coordinator - Rugby Ontario