Vancouver Highlanders

Vancouver Highlanders – December 2023

Vancouver Highlanders Updates: Tom Larisch Named as Head Coach; Randall Barton is Director of Sports Operations

The Vancouver Highlanders have been busy, not that it’s obvious as they don’t post news updates on their website yet, or have a media email notification system yet, but a bit of looking on social media channels like Twitter and Linkedin shows they’re making progress!

They announced Tom Larisch as head coach in a Twitter post, a graphic that we ran through an image to text processor to post below. We saw the Randall Barton news on Linkedin, and saw a job posting on Linkedin. Read below for more information.

We also did a flashback on Tom Larisch, the 2009 epic win for BC over Russia where he was Assistant Coach to Mike James. The Capilano tour to Spain and France in 2012 where he was head coach, his winning the Gerald McGavin Coaching award in 2007, his Canada ‘A’ tour to NZ in 2006 as a player, and the back to back Premier championships for Capilano in 2004 and 2005 where he played #10.

The Highlanders are getting there, it looks like they’re building a professional organization, it’s a little rough in delivery to start but that’s to be expected as they’ve given themselves a lot to do in a relatively short period of time. It will be interesting to watch them grow.

from Highlanders Twitter Account

VANCOUVER, CANADA – December 4, 2023 – Vancouver Highlanders Rugby is dedicated to advancing the personal and professional development of the person through rugby union. The team will play in the 2024 Rugby Players Challenge (, hosting home games at fields around Metro Vancouver between May 1 and August 31. To that end, the Highlanders are proud to announce the appointment of Tom Larisch as Head Coach.

Tom has played on and coached Canadian club, high school, university, provincial and national teams and succeeded at every level. He brings to the Highlanders a drive to win that is necessary for us to deliver on our mission of competing at the highest level of the sport in North America.

Highlanders Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, Curry Hitchborn, said: “I’ve known and worked with Tom for more than a decade. I am honored to call him a friend. He and I share a belief that player and team development must embody, respect, accountability and competition. We are truly excited that he will be joining us.”

Coach Larisch added: “There are five principles that form the foundation of my coaching philosophy: hard work, accountability, honest conversation, teamwork and fun. I wholeheartedly believe that the Highlanders mission to foster a two-way relationship between the team and the player is critical to advancing our sport. Further, the goal of helping young men pursue their educational and professional aspirations while continuing to play elite rugby can be transformational. I’ve watched too many great players in their prime be forced to choose between a career on or off the field once their formal education ends. They now no longer need to. I’m honoured to be part of this journey.”

Vancouver Highlanders Rugby Player Development Centres, will deliver age-grade training (U12, U14, U16 and U18) to aspiring players commencing in early 2024.

Please watch our website for details.

For more information, please visit:

from Linkedin

Randall Barton

I’m happy to share that I’m starting a new position as Director of Sports Operations at Vancouver’s newest rugby team, The Vancouver Highlanders!

Job Posting on Linkedin



Vancouver Highlanders Rugby is dedicated to advancing the personal and professional development of the person through rugby union. Our mission is to compete at the highest level of the sport in North America. We will play in the 2024 Rugby Players Challenge (, hosting home games at fields around Metro Vancouver between May 1 and August 31.


Sport must be exciting, fun, and entertaining. Everything in our organization is focused on delivering excellence, both on and off the field. How we engage our fans and their experience on game day is critical to our mission and our success. To be called “professional” every aspect of our organization needs to operate that way. We need a full-time executive to design, implement and manage our fan experience.


You don’t need to be a ”rugby person”. You must, on the other hand, be imaginative, creative, and pragmatic. You are outgoing and inclusive. You probably organized the best parties while at school.

You intuitively know how to create an exciting and immersive experience for our fans; one that will evolve with your imagination and time. You are not afraid of failure, but don’t fail often because you plan and think things through.

You will instinctively adapt your approach to different venues around the Lower Mainland of BC. You will understand how to manage a budget and get the most out of each dollar invested. You will work well with sponsors, donors, and other partners; making them feel part of our organization. You will champion and elevate our brand through strategic management of our social media platforms, fostering engagement and driving growth. You will manage a team that includes scores of volunteers who dedicate their time for the love of the sport and our team. You will You also get to do something very few people do in their lives: build something special, from the ground up.

· A university degree or college certificate, preferably in marketing, communication, or promotion.
· An ability to communicate clearly and concisely.
· A willingness to work outside of normal business hours and flexibly manage time in and out of the season.
· An appreciation of what it means to be a “team player”.
· Although there is a time and place for work-from-home, being part of our team means interacting in the office and at our remote training locations around the Lower Mainland.
· You need to have regular access to a car and be prepared to drive locally on business. You may sometimes need to travel to away games with the team.
· You must be legally entitled to work in Canada.


· A salary commensurate with your experience and capabilities.
· An annual bonus tied to your and the Team’s financial performance.
· Medical and Dental Insurance coverage.
· Free Highlanders SWAG.

If you read this and can’t imagine that this opportunity is available in Vancouver, we look forward to receiving an application and resume from you. Before you reach out, we ask that you take the time to visit and read through our website and better understand our mission and principles.



For more information, please visit:

From BCRN Archives

BC Bears Defeat Russia 38-16 in Langford
November 24 2009

LANGFORD, BC – Six members of the UVic Vikes rugby team suited up for the British Columbia Bears on Tuesday night as the provincial side defeated the no. 16 World-ranked senior men’s Russian national team 38-16.

In front of nearly 2,000 fans at Bear Mountain Stadium in Langford, the Bears hosted the Russians in the first ever sanctioned international event in Canada played on artificial turf.

With a UVic studded forward pack including an entire Vikes’ front row, the Bears controlled the flow of the match from the opening whistle running in six tries and kicking three converts.

Just days after returning from the Canadian senior men’s tour of Japan, UVic winger Sean Duke made an immediate impact pouncing on a Russian miscue to score the Bear’s fifth try.

Of the 15 island-based players, the UVic Vikes program was the most represented.

“There’s a lot of island based guys that (assistant coach) Tom Larisch and I don’t get to see very often,” Bears head coach Mike James said. “But for them to have the opportunity to play a game like this at home, the guys were pretty excited and you can see what happened.”

Four members of the Vikes’ program will suit up for the first ever international test match between Canada and Russia on Saturday at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby.

BC Bears
1. Toby Peyton (UVic Vikes)
2. Ryan Hamilton (UVic Vikes)
3. Andrew Tiedemann (UVic Vikes)
4. Eric Lopatinsky (Velox)
5. Glen McKinnon (Capilano RFC)
6. Ben Johnson (James Bay Athletic Association)
7. Seamus Gay (Castaway Wanderers)
8. Ben Jones (University of BC)
9. Ed Fairhurst c ( Castaway Wanderers – UVic Alumnus)
10. Charlie Jones (University of BC)
11. Vince Herlaar (James Bay Athletic Association)
12. David Spicer (UVic Vikes)
13. Matt Buckley (Castaway Wanderers)
14. Brock Nicholson (Vancouver Rowing Club RFC)
15. Connor Braid (James Bay Athletic Association)
16. Rhodri Hanmer (Meraloma)
17. Jason Marshall (Capilano)
18. Travis Robertson (Velox Valhallians)
19. Conner Christopher (Capilano RFC)
20. Scott Plummer (Burnaby Lake RFC)
21. Nick Waggott (University of BC)
22. Phil Mack (UVic Vikes)
23. Sean Duke (UVic Vikes)

Gerald McGavin Award – 2013

Tom Larisch (2007) – Carson Graham (Capilano)
Adam Roberts (2008) – Earl Marriott (Bayside)
Jason Young (2009) – Abbotsford
Martin Jones (2010) – Mulgrave School, West Vancouver
Jeff Williams (2011) – Shawnigan Lake School, Vancouver Island (JBAA)
Rameses Langston (2012) – Carson Graham (Capilano)

Capilano Touring to Spain and France: Aug 16th to Sept 3rd
posted Aug 19 2012

Who doesn’t love a rugby tour, it’s something special to rugby, a great team bonding adventure. The Premier champions Capilano are off to Spain and France where they’ll play three games, one in Spain and two in France. They played their first game on Saturday in Spain (no word on the result) and return September 3rd. They’ll also stop in Clermont to catch up with former Capilano player Jamie Cudmore. There were some interesting comments from Capilano coach Tom Larisch in a North Shore News article.

“I don’t think any club in B.C., or very few, have been on a tour for decades,” said elite team head coach Tom Larisch, the tour’s organizer. “Our club hasn’t been on a tour outside of North America for 25 years. The last time a team went was a group of guys went in 1987 to the first World Cup. It’s been a long time.”

Canada ‘A’ win final game of development tour, 30-7, against Wanganui
25 April 2006
by WAYNE MARTIN (from The Nelson Mail website)

Perth’s Subiaco Oval on Friday provided a salutory lesson about misjudging your opposition.

The Crusaders were supposed to hammer the lowly Western Force in their Super 14 rugby contest but ultimately battled to avoid the most embarrassing of defeats.

The touring Canada A rugby team has lost its two previous matches against New Zealand under-21 selections heading into Wednesday’s clash against an SBS Tasman 15 at Trafalgar Park. But Tasman coach Bevan Cadwallader isn’t underestimating the Canadians and will be ensuring his players enter the contest in exactly the right frame of mind.

While he knows little of the tourists, Cadwallader is expecting them to have absorbed plenty of knowledge about New Zealand rugby.

“We don’t know too much about them and we’re not going to take anything for granted,” he said.

“They’ll be well-prepared, well-conditioned and they’ll have become accustomed to the New Zealand style of play by now, I’d suggest.”

He said his players won’t be lacking motivation, despite not playing under the official Tasman Makos banner. They’ll take the field on Wednesday as a Tasman 15 but, as the first outing of any significance for the new union, the players will be busting to perform.

“I think the key is, at the moment, that they see it as an opportunity to put their hands up and put on a good performance for future selections. Some of them are being rewarded for their present and past form so, at this stage, it’s as strong a team as we can pick.”

There’s been one change to his original selection after exciting Huia winger Lucky Mulipola broke a hand in Saturday’s club play. It’s provided new Australian winger Peter Playford with the chance to impress in a starting role and join a Tasman backline full of attacking potential.

“We’ve got some talented ball players and some aggressive forwards who’ll be working hard up front to provide us with some ball and for the backs to utilise it to the best of their ability.

“The (weather) conditions will play a part but the guys are just looking forward to the challenge. They’ve trained well and they’re excited about it – that’s the key for us.”

Canada A coach Ric Suggitt said the team’s opening 58-18 loss to a New Zealand under-21 trial team provided a stark lesson in the intensity and pace they need to emulate to be competitive in New Zealand.

The Canadians worked on their defensive organisation for game two against a second New Zealand under-21 squad and while the Canadians remained scoreless, they were able to restrict the under-21s to 36 points. They’ve been learning some tough lessons.

“Quite honestly, you can put it into a nutshell about being physical and about being effective at the breakdown,” he said. “That’s a lesson well learned – and the importance of fitness in being able to play a game for 80 minutes.”

Suggitt said the under-21s certainly provided physical opposition, but he expects even more intensity from Tasman.

“We think they’re going to be more mature and obviously more structured and probably a little bit more physical because they’ve had the experience over the years.”

He said Canada would be focusing on the set play, on being more physical at the breakdown and organising its defence quickly enough to limit Tasman’s attacking options.

Canada A is on a development tour so Suggitt is constantly mixing his players. Wednesday’s lineup includes full internationals in hooker Pat Riordan, halfback and captain Pat Fleck, first five-eighth Derek Daypuck and winger Kris Witkowski.

Wednesday’s game kicks off at 3.30pm.

TASMAN 15: Robbie Malneek, Peter Playford, Rudolf Meredith, Junior Sifa, Blair Cook, Tim Taylor, James King (captain), Kahu Marfell, Jonathon Poff, Patrick Finau, Nathan George, Cory Holdaway, Tristan Moran, Daniel Perrin, Ben May. Substitutes: Karl Carmichael, Sam Johnstone, Alex Ainley, Zane Winslade, Tim Lempriere, Gareth Arlidge, Toese Lealamanua.

CANADA A: Tom Larisch, Justin Mensah-Coker, David Stockton, Chris Pack, Kris Witkowski, Derek Daypuck, Pat Fleck, David Biddle, Mark Thompson, Oliver Atkinson, Barry Ward, Scott Dunham, Scott Franklin, Pat Riordan, Ian Exner. Substitutes: Aaron Abrams, Hubert Buydens, Matt Phinney, Adam Kleeberger, Brodie Anderson, Matt Weingart, Ed Fairhurst.


by Ian Kennedy (Rugby Canada press release)
April 13, 2006

The twenty–eight players composing Canada’s ‘A’ squad set to fly to New Zealand on Friday, gathered in North Vancouver on Wednesday afternoon to begin preparations for their forthcoming, four-game tour. Because of injury and for personal and occupational reasons, three players originally named to the squad have been forced to remove themselves from the tour.

Capilano flanker Mike Langley and wing David Moonlight, both of whom played with Canada’s on the recent Hong Kong and Singapore leg of the IRB Sevens Series, have been replaced by wing Chris Pack and Scott Franklin, who have been training with the B.C. based members of the squad for the past month.

Bayside centre Chris Pack comes into the side with nine IRB Sevens series tournaments under his belt as well as six years of playing experience under the tutelage of former Canada captain, wing/centre Spence McTavish, at the University of British Columbia.

Regina-born Scott Franklin comes into the NSMT squad for the first time having played for Canada at the U-17, and U-19 levels and having graduated from the Canada U-23 PacificSport Academy as a flanker. Franklin has now taken up playing tight-head prop.

At 6’ 2” and 250 pounds Scott is enjoying his new-found position. “They now tell me that it’s ok for me to eat whatever I want and not worry about keeping trim to play flanker!”

Vancouver-born, New Zealand-raised centre Craig Culpan became a late addition to the squad yesterday after a recurring knee injury to centre Dean Van Camp ruled him unfit to travel. Culpan, born of Kiwi parents in Vancouver, was taken to Auckland at seven years of age and immediately began playing rugby.

Culpan continued his career at Auckland Grammar School playing on the team that won the Auckland Schools’ Championship in 1999. He then played for the school’s ‘old boy’ team, Grammar-Carlton, for a season before playing for Watsonians in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Returning to Auckland he enrolled in International Business and Economics at the Auckland University of Technology and while continuing to play Premier grade rugby for Grammar-Carleton, reached the Auckland final in 2004 only to lose to Ponsonby.

Needing to spend a year overseas as part of his International Studies program, Culpan chose to use his Canadian passport to come to Canada and perhaps try for a place on Canada’s 2007 World Cup squad. Now playing for the Meraloma Club in Vancouver, and with twelve tries to his credit, he holds top-try scoring status in the Canadian Direct B.C. Premier League.

“I’m absolutely rapt. It didn’t take much to twist my arm to join the tour, and it has been a bit of a rush since last night to get ready,” says the obviously delighted Culpan. “My mother and father are on holidays and I can’t contact them, so they are going to be a bit surprised when I call them from Wellington.”

The team held a light afternoon workout at the Capilano RFC’s, Klahani Park near the motel where the team is staying. Besides being kept under the watchful eyes of coaches Ric Suggitt, John Tait, Geraint John and Dave Johnston, 98 year-old former Canadian international Ernest Pinkham, accompanied by his daughter Judith, also cast a critical eye from the stands.

Pinkham is the world’s oldest living international and played wing for Canada against Japan, when the first Canadian team sailed there to play two tests in 1932.

The NSMT coaching staff had extended an open invitation to all Lower Mainland club coaches to come and observe Canada ‘A’s afternoon training sessions. At Wednesday’s session UBC Coaches Spence McTavish and Rod Holloway as well as Abbotsford RFC coaches Rick MacDonald and Doug Primrose were welcomed by Canada’s staff.

Following Wednesday’s training, and after dinner at a nearby Earl’s restaurant, the tour party held a familiarization meeting before an early evening, as many of the players had traveled long distances on Wednesday.

Centre Tyler Wish, who is finishing his Phd. at Memorial University, had come all the way from Newfoundland and rose at 5 am Nfld. time (1 am Vancouver time) to make the journey. His head didn’t finally touch the pillow until 11 pm Vancouver time — a 22-hour day.

Twin Canada props Dan and Mike Pletch celebrated their 23rd birthday without much fanfare on Wednesday. Dan and Mike, who is two minutes older, have both played for Ontario U-16 and U-18, as well as Canada U-19 teams. They both went to the U-19 Championships in Chile in 2001 and to the Italy event in 2002, and played for Canada at the U-21 World Championships in England in 2003. They each amassed ten U-19 caps and five U-21 caps with Dan earning his first full cap against the USA in 2004 (he now has nine). Mike earned his only one against Argentina in 2005.

Canada ‘A’ will train twice on Thursday before flying out on Friday for Wellington where they will play New Zealand U-21 trialists on April 19 and 22nd before moving to Nelson on the South Island where they will play Tasman on April 26th. The Canadians will finish with a game against Wanganui back on the North Island on April 28th.

Capilano Win 2005 Rounsefell Cup with a 33-16 win over the Vancouver Meralomas

By Jan-Christian Sorensen – North Shore News –
posted May 5 2005

THE Capilano Rugby Football Club’s premier men’s team is the best in the province.


Last May the West Van side won its first F.W. Rounsefell Cup provincial championship trophy in 49 years with a 17-12 win over the UBC Old Boys Ravens. Up to that point, a local team had not claimed the B.C. crown since the North Shore All Blacks won it back in 1955 – 14 years before the club merged with the West Vancouver Barbarians to form the current Capilano club.

On Saturday afternoon the Caps stamped a well-deserved repeat on the trophy when they dispatched the Vancouver Meralomas 33-16 at UBC’s Thunderbird Stadium.

As they did the week previous in their BCRU semifinal match against the Velox Valhallians – the host Caps were behind 10-0 at the break in that one but rebounded for a 28-10 win and a berth in the B.C. final – the champs saved their best efforts for the second half of the game.

After two frames it was the Meralomas who held a 13-11 advantage. But the Capilano offence cycled up after the break, the defence clamped down and the Meralomas only managed to put another three points on the board before the boys in black and yellow once again celebrated as they held aloft the Cup.

“That seems to be the story with us week in and week out,” said Capilano premier team captain Mike Andrew, who was named the man of the match after the dust settled. “The opposition just runs out of gas and we start holding onto the ball, keeping possession, and eventually break them down.

“The floodgates opened for us in the second half. We had a nice back move – Nick Belmar put in a nice pass to Tony Weller, who got off a nice pass to Chris Burk, who scored a try that was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back. You could see it in the faces of (the Meralomas) after that. They knew they probably didn’t have a chance to win. We were dominating the game at that point and we didn’t seem to give up the ball at all in the second half of the game. They could not get through our defence. We really stepped up in that facet of the game.”

The Capilano tries were scored by Ian Smortchevsky, Akio Tyler, Brent Steacy and Burk. Tom Larisch had a pair of conversions and a penalty, and Kevin Guidi added another two penalties to the tally. On the Vancouver side, Brian Erichsen scored the only try and Ian Breheney was good for the convert and three penalties.

Great rugby, great weather, cold beer [complete with a RCMP sniffing station after the game!]; all occured at UBC in the Premier Mens’ final.

by Jeremy Dalton
April 26, 2004

The final score Capilanos 17 Old Boys Ravens 12 of itself told a lot. the 2 teams played each other 3 times during the year, and the scoring difference was 10 points. Capilanos won all 3, so a BC title was deserved, but not easy!

The Caps dominated the start, but a goal post (penalty kick) and penalties against near the Ravens’ line denied any points. The Old Boys had a 3-0 lead at the half.

Capilanos crossed the line twice in the second half, and try scorer Tom Larisch (fullback John Granander got the other) added 2 conversions and a penalty. The trusty Troy MacDonald hit 3 penalties, and a drop goal rounded out the Ravens’ total.

The last 10 minutes saw a Old Boys march from their 22 to the Caps’ goal line. Not a kick in the entire effort, and it was the trademark Caps’ defence that made the difference. Cristof Strubin, a Canada 7s international, showed why he is on that team, with his search and destroy open field tackling.

A Ravens’ penalty near the Caps’ try line ended the relentless march, and Hyde-Lay [his last game] blew up full time.

The Capilanos annual awards dinner that evening was very special. Forty nine years betwen North Shore wins is a longtime!

The top two club sides in the BCRU Premier League regular season standings, Capilano Curtis Lumber and the UBCOB Ravens, have advanced to the “Rounsefell Cup” BC Club Championship final Saturday April 17, 2004

At Klahanie Park, in West Vancouver, Capilano Curtis Lumber won out 19 – 15 over the Bayside Sharks. Capilano Curtis Lumber moved ahead 19 – 9 after the half time break, a break which saw both sides enter the mid point of the match tied at 9 – 9. The Bayside Sharks fought back to 19 – 15, but, tenacious defence by Capilano Curtis Lumber saw the home side hold off the visitors on their goal line, in the final minutes of play. The absolutely packed stands at Klahanie Park erupted with a standing ovation in appreciation of the tense encounter played out before them.

At Jericho Park, in Vancouver, the UBCOB Ravens defeated the visiting Castaway-Wanderers from Victoria 34 – 20 to claim the other spot in the Rounsefell Cup final to be played next Saturday.

In the BC 1st Division semi-final, which also doubled as the VRU 1st Division Final, the Meraloma 1st Division claimed a 24 – 17 victory over UBC to advance to next Saturday’s BC 1st Division Final against Abbotsford, at UBC’s Thunderbird Stadium.

Abbotsford 1st Division, being the highest seeded team after the BC 1st Division Quarter-Finals, received a bye through the semi’s into next Saturday’s BC 1st Division Final.

In the “Bell-Irving Cup”, VRU 2nd Division Final, played earlier at Klahanie Park the Vancouver Rowing Club 2nd Division claimed a 29 – 9 victory over the Capilano RFC 2nd Division.

The Vancouver Rowing Club 2nd Division advance to next Saturday’s “Province Cup” BC 2nd Division Final against Kelowna, also to be played next Saturday at the BC Rugby Men’s Club Championships, at UBC’s Thunderbird Stadium.

In the VRU 3rd Division Final, played at Klahanie Park in West Vancouver, the top seeded UCC-Kamloops team came away winners over the Capilano 3rd Division by a score of 26 – 3, to claim the Hump-Payne Trophy. Both the UCC-Kamloops 3rd Division side and the Capilano 3rd Division side will represent the VRU in the upcoming Sarotoga Cup BC 3rd Division Championships, to be held May 8th & 9th 2004, in Kamloops.


Posted in Front Page, Highlanders.

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