Although we won’t be seeing the Shrum Bowl this year, according to Milt Richards, SFU’s athletics director, there is a good chance that this time next year we will be seeing SFU and UBC face off for the first time since 2010.
The Shrum Bowl was once an annual meet-up between the two rival football teams, started in 1967, and held every year (except 1994) from 1987 to 2010. Throughout its history it has been plagued with scheduling difficulties resulting in the recent hiatus.
Richards, however, states that there is an agreement — although not in writing — to hold the Shrum Bowl on Labour Day, provided that it is open. This depends on when the Vanier Cup is held: “The Vanier Cup, the CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) championship is [currently] being held in the last week of November. That means Labour Day weekend is open [for UBC, so] we’ll play the Shrum Bowl.
“[At] one time this game could draw 20,000 people, [so] this is a big game.”
“For a lot of reasons, because of us being NCAA and them being CIS, the schedules just haven’t worked so I think that this is a good breakthrough.”
However, if the Vanier Cup is held earlier in the year, then the Labour Day weekend would not be available for UBC, and thus the Shrum Bowl could not be played.
Richards is confident, though, that the Vanier Cup will remain on the last weekend of November, and that the Labour Day weekend will be free: “We think we’ll be able to play next year because we think all of that stuff is going to happen.”
Before the decision to hold the Shrum Bowl over Labour Day weekend, there were two other possible dates. One possibility was during Thanksgiving weekend when UBC has a bye, while the other option would be at the end of the year.
However, UBC vetoed Thanksgiving because they wanted the bye week to rest their players, instead of playing what is really an exhibition game in the middle of the season. SFU vetoed the end of the year option, because it conflicts with the NCAA playoffs.
“I couldn’t [let SFU] play at the end of the year because that would mean that we would say we weren’t making the playoffs,” said the athletic director.
To Richards, though, the Shrum Bowl is a very important event. “Since the day I’ve gotten here, I’ve wanted [SFU] to play the Shrum Bowl. We’ve had conversations back and forth with UBC,” he said.
He also expressed his belief that the game is not simply good for the SFU and UBC athletic programs, or even students, but the community as a whole. “It goes beyond [the universities]. From what I’ve heard, in the three years that I’ve been here, is that the BC community wants to see this football game. [At] one time this game could draw 20,000 people, [so] this is a big game.”
The next Shrum Bowl would be held on SFU turf under American rules, as the last one was held at UBC, a game in which the Clan beat the Thunderbirds 27-20.