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CIRU has a lock on rugby in the north

The Central Interior Rugby Union is alive and kicking.

The Central Interior Rugby Union is alive and kicking.

Despite organizational difficulties within the league and a long history of instability, with clubs folding and reforming, the loose affiliation that binds the CIRU now includes four teams -- the Prince George Gnats, Williams Lake Rustlers, Prince Rupert Seamen and the Terrace Northmen.

"The league is always hanging on by a thread," said Gnats eighth man Paul Bryant. "We had Vanderhoof slowly starting up and then it died again. It hinges on one or two guys who do most of the work."

Central Interior rugby was booming in the mid-1970s, when it was called the Prince George Spring Rugby League. There were five Prince George teams -- the Gnats, Barbarians, Boors, Springboks, and Spartans (Cunneylugs) and they had plenty of out-of-town opposition from the Vanderhoof Honkers, Quesnel Axemen and Williams Lake. The league was renamed in 1985 and by the early 1990s the CIRU included a team in Fort St. John.

The Vernon Jackals, who played Williams Lake and Prince George is a series of games Saturday at Kelly Road, belonged to the CIRU a few years ago along with Penticton but are now part of the Okanagan Rugby League.