Like word getting out that another group is taking over your field of play and, oh yeah, your club is folding.
That all came as news to Moose Jaw Rugby Football Club organizer Trevor Dawe, who was surprised with word from a recent city council meeting regarding Moose Jaw Minor Football taking over MacDonald Field for their practices.
At the time, it was believed the storied club was actually shutting down for good, not just moving aside to let a much larger kids organization use a facility the MJRFC weren’t in need of at the moment.
While things might not be at the heyday levels of the late 90s and earlier, there’s still a rugby club in town, folks, and if Dawe and his fellow members have anything to say about it, things are only going to get bigger and better in the near future.
“Around 2012 they started having attendance issues and getting guys out and what have you, and they had to step back from the league,” Dawe said of the local drop off in the sport. “Then two or three years away, guys stop having interest, got a bit older and busier with work and it is what it is.
“So the letter we sent said ‘hey, minor football, you can start using this since we’re not fielding a team right now, at this very moment’ But we’re definitely we’re trying to get things going and build things up.”
In fact, the very same morning the misunderstanding hit the streets, Dawe had posted dates on the MJRFC’s Facebook page for upcoming touch rugby gatherings taking place four weeks through October and November at YaraCentre.
The touch version of the sport is rapidly growing, analogous to touch football and how the non-contact version of that game has taken off at rapid pace.
“Most of the time at practice we’ll play a bit of touch just to get loose and warm up, but it’s also growing as a sport in its own right,” Dawe said. “It’s nice because you can mix in different age groups and different genders since there’s no contact, it’s just running and passing the ball. And if you’ve been playing for a few years, there comes a point where you might want to run around and be social but you can’t play a contact sport any more. So we’re hoping to appeal to a wide range of people, if you want to come out and hang out and pass the ball around you’re more than welcome too….anything that gets people off the couch is a good thing.”
The coming sessions are planned for Wednesday nights on Oct. 30, Nov. 6, Nov.13 and Nov. 27. Action begins at 7 p.m., with a cost of $45 based on 12 people. Anyone interested in coming out is asked to message the club on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MooseJawRFC/ or e-mail at MooseJawRFC@gmail.com
Earlier this year, the MJRFC also jumped on the mini-rugby program started by Rugby Canada as a way to get youngsters involved in the sport in the safest way possible. Mini-rugby is strictly non-contact and aimed at players age 6 to 12.
“Curtis Dumont and a few others have spearheaded the program and the kids have a great time out there,” Dawe said. “My daughter played when she was four and again last year when she was five. It’s all about getting out and playing games and as the kids get a little older you introduce some of the passing and real basic concepts of hand-eye co-ordination and things like that.”
Plans are in place to have mini-rugby return next spring.
With the 2019 Rugby World Cup coming up beginning on Sept. 26, the MJRFC is planning to run social events at Bugsy’s to catch the TSN replays of Canada’s games in Japan. The viewing schedule isn’t set just yet, pending TSN releasing the full schedule for the tournament.
And finally, this coming spring will see the club pushing for the formation of a new high school program drawing on students from all four schools in the city with the goal of forming a combined team like that seen in the mid-2000s.
Beyond all that, the goal is just to keep doing whatever they can to grow rugby back into the powerhouse the city once knew.
“The game is a lot safer than it might seem to present, people might think it’s a really violent game,” Dawe said. “But when you see it and play it and you look at all the steps they’ve taken for player safety, they’re really at the forefront of concussion management and injury prevention, to the point you see football teams saying ‘oh, we should all tackle like rugby players’.
“So hopefully all these things we’re doing will give us a chance to show people what it is and give them a chance, whether it is non-contact touch or playing in the new year with us in a full game. Whatever people are into we’re going to try and have something for them.”