Canadian football will return to its roots in 2011 by showcasing rugby during halftime at select Canadian Football League (CFL) games. Canadian football developed from rugby; the Grey Cup, first presented in 1909, was the reward to recognize the top amateur rugby football team in Canada. It is now the CFL equivalent to the NFL's Lombardi Trophy, awarded annually to the CFL champion.
Saskatchewan Roughriders CEO Jim Hopson and the Dog River Howlers Rugby Club were the catalysts in featuring rugby with Canadian football. In 2010, the Howlers played the Saskatchewan Prairie Fire in an exhibition game before 30,000 enthusiastic fans during halftime of the Roughriders home game. Sevens rugby will take center stage during three CFL games in 2011.
On June 15 the Howlers will take on the Prairies Wolf Pack in Calgary during halftime of the Calgary Stampeders and BC Lions game.
The North Saskatchewan Wolverines will play the Prairie Fire in Regina for provincial bragging rights during halftime of game between the Roughriders and Edmonton Eskimos on June 17.
The Howlers travel west to take on the BC Tyees on June 22 during halftime of the BC Lions and Saskatchewan Roughriders. The Howlers lineup will feature Waisale Serevi. Serevi has long been considered the ‘Wayne Gretzky’ of rugby sevens and will give fans a memorable experience.
The Howlers are committed to assisting the growth of rugby sevens in Canada. “We would like to see sevens games played in every CFL city, featuring natural provincial rivalries, such as the North/South Saskatchewan game in Regina this year”, stated Karl Fix, president of the Dog River Howlers Rugby Club
Rugby Sevens, originating in Melrose, Scotland in 1883, features seven players on the field per team; in contrast to the fifteen players per team in the traditional game. Played on the same size field as traditional rugby, the game demands high-speed athleticism. Rugby sevens is experiencing unprecedented growth. This can be attributed to its recent inclusion in the Olympics, making its debut in Brazil in 2016.