The Shrum Bowl will not be played this year, UBC Athletics confirmed Tuesday.
The annual rivalry game between UBC and Simon Fraser University’s men’s football teams has been played 33 times since the inaugural match in 1967. But after SFU moved last year from the CIS to the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), the American intercollegiate authority, stricter scheduling requirements have made it impossible to play this year.
“They said they would try to get the date… and they couldn’t do it,” said Bob Philip, UBC’s director of athletics and recreation. “As soon as their schedule came out, we knew they couldn’t do it for sure.”
Last year’s game, which SFU won 27-20, was an exhibition match played at Thunderbird Stadium.
“Last year it worked out,” said Philip. “They were playing an exhibition schedule, and we had one bye date.”
In previous years each team in Canada West received two bye weeks a season, but now that there is an even number of teams in the conference, there will only be one bye week a year, which occurs during Thanksgiving.
It is the 11th time the match will not be played since the rivalry’s inception.
“Don’t forget, they’re new in the league,” Philip said, “so it’s pretty hard for them to go into the league and start dictating when their byes are going to be.”
There aren’t a lot of options for the game if the teams’ bye weeks don’t match up. There is also no real option to play the game immediately before or after the season.
“The problem is that their season starts later and goes longer than ours,” Philip said. “We don’t want to play the Shrum Bowl before school starts because that’s just counterproductive.”
According to Philip, playing it in the middle of a week is also not an option.
“In 1992 and 1993 we wanted to play the Shrum Bowl, so we ended up moving our league games around and we played Alberta on a Thursday night and Manitoba on a Sunday, and we just said after that we’d never do that again,” he said. “It’s really hard to play two games back to back like that.”
Playing after the season wouldn’t work either, Philip said.
“Of course, we get into the uncertainty at the end of whether you’re in the playoffs or not,” he said. “If you don’t make the playoffs, then you try to play the game in November, you could be sitting off for a month before you play, and they’ve been playing. If you did get into the playoffs, it wouldn’t work.”
For Philip, the game not being held this year is disappointing.
“I think it’s important because the students really like it,” he said. “Since I’ve been here, we made a lot of effort over the years to play the game. We even threatened Canada West one year that we would move our team into the NAIA with Simon Fraser just to play the Shrum Bowl.
“I think it was kind of tongue in cheek, but…I think we were really ticked off that we couldn’t play the Shrum Bowl, because it’s such a big draw that really focuses attention.”
Philips said that in the future, UBC could negotiate to play a CIS game in the bye week and play the Shrum Bowl elsewhere, or play a January game similar to bowl games in the American collegiate system.
“I think that we could sit down and really try to do it, but I think the problem in the last little while is we’ve been focusing on waiting to decide if we were staying in Canada or go in the NCAA. They did go in the NCAA, and they’re trying to get everything straightened out,” he said. “I’m pretty sure over this year, we’ll sit down and try to see if we can get it going again.
“There’s been years when the game’s been held and there’s been years where it hasn’t been, but I think both teams tried to do it,” Philip said. “I’m sure it’s not going to be played this year, but UBC and SFU want the game to be played.
“If we both want it, we’ll make it happen.”