One of the side effects of SFU's decision to jump to NCAA Division II and UBC's subsequent decision to remain in CIS for the time being was the potential loss of CIS football's most storied games, the annual Shrum Bowl between the two teams. The Shrum Bowl has been contested 32 times over the years and always gets a fair bit of attention; everyone in the Lower Mainland knows about the UBC-SFU rivalry, and the annual football game has been one of its best expressions. Fortunately, as Howard Tsumura of The Province reports, that's going to continue for at least this year.
Oddly enough, SFU's switch to the NCAA both threatened and preserved this year's game. The two teams will no longer meet in Canada West competition, but the Clan's departure left Canada West with only six football teams and forced a conference-wide bye on the Oct. 8-10 weekend. During that bye, the game will be played under the Friday night lights at UBC's Thunderbird Stadium on Oct. 8.
The other interesting element of this is the changes in the rules. They go back to the days when UBC was in CIS and SFU was in the NAIA. The two schools would alternate hosting the game, and it would be played by Canadian rules at UBC and by American rules when SFU was hosting, giving it a unique atmosphere and feel. When SFU joined CIS, the Shrum Bowl was still important, but it was also just a league game (and one of the two the teams would play each year). Now, it's set to go back to a once-a-year event with alternating hosts and rules, and it will become much more unique again.
Of course, the scheduling issues might make this just a one-off. We don't know if Canada West will add more football teams or alter the schedule after this year, and the Division II Great Northern Athletic Conference might do the same thing. Either of those changes could kill the game for good. UBC might wind up jumping to the NCAA as well, which could let the game continue but turn it back into a regular league game. For now, though, the Shrum Bowl is alive and well, and back to the clash of countries it used to be. Let's hope it's able to continue in some form; it's a unique showcase for CIS football.
[Cross-posted to The CIS Blog]