When I first starting playing for the Blues in 1979, I had just finished grade 11, playing rugby at Ridgemont High School. We did not have a junior program, I played 3rds. At practice and at games I introduced myself as Boggy’s little brother. My first game at Twin Elm, I stepped into the Blues change room, a wee bit timid and shy. If you can believe it I was actually quiet.
As I walked into the room, John Russell, probably in his 50s, is lying stretched out, ala Burt Reynolds, a wry smile, a cigarette in one hand, his knee bandaged up for support and the alluring aroma of A535 wafting through the room. After the game, I walk back in and the only difference for John was a bit more dirt on him, a wobbly pop in his hand and a wry smile for a job well done!
Welcome to the Blues!
2017 was a great year for the club. We defended our Super League Season Title, with an undefeated record of 10-0. Our 2nds finished 3rd in the Reserve division. Both teams made it to the Quebec Playff final. Albeit short staffed, the club fielded 2 top level sides for the match. Unforunately for us the Montreal Irish prevailed in both matches for a hard-fought, nail-bighting match. Their victory was well deserved, and we salute them.
2017 McCormick Cup. Well for the 1st time in 3 years, our senior men got a first round match. The boys traveled 7 hours to London to play a hard fought loss (38-22) to London St George’s. The match was close until the last 10-20 minutes (2 unanswreed tries in dying minutes). We then hosted Toronto Nomads and after a hard fought match the boys were victorious (44-15). We then hosted Oakville Crusaders, who finished 6th in the Premiership League. The game was lost on the last play of the match, after the team had a convincing 18-3 first half lead (two unfortunate yellow cards giving the Cru the impetus and confidence to rally back). The final score was 25-18.
This past year also saw the unfortunate and untimely passing of Gerry “Animal” Veitz. His enthusiasm for the game, the club and life will be sorely missed, but never forgotten.
A special thanks to the Vintages committe who held the first ever Old Boys worldwide festival (Vintages tourney) this pas August. A lot of work was done to organise and plan out this event. A special thanks to Lee Powell, Rick Fleming, Jim Nordin and many others who helped in the planning and staging of the vent. Also many thanks to the Senior Men and Blues family for volunteering during the vent to guarantee its success! A special thanks to Wheels for organising our old boys to field a squad for the event, bodes well for 2018!
The club had 253 registered players in the club (83 – senior men, 83 juniors, 83 minors). That is 20 more than our highest registration numbers before, but spread out over U6 – U18 and senior men. As other clubs are faltering and having registration issues, our club continues to grow and succeed. This is in part to the trong and deicated infra-structure that my predecessors have built over over the last 10 years. Its been a long haul, and a lot of hurdles, but the club is healthy, both financially and on the field. The club had 23 registered coaches, managers and executives, the largest in Eastern Ontario.
Our juniors did not have the best success on the field; part of that is due to the structure of EORU league. The games didn’t get started until July due to other clubs registration problems. July is vacation month, touring side matches and rep-level matches. We also had 5-7 rep-level 18 year olds opt out of the U18s this year, to prepare for University/College or for work reasons. One main reason is the lack of competition over the last couple of years.
Our U18s had 10 matches this past summer (5 vs EORU teams, 4 touring sides and 2 x 40 minute exhibition games vs Irish and Beavers). Our U18s beat the Glasgow U18 team. Our U16s had 8 matches (6 vs EORU teams and 2 touring sides). Our U14s had their first ‘league’ play we had 4 EORU teams at that level. They also hosted their first touring side match. Our U12s (4 teams, game is 7 aside) were 75-2 and showed their ability against all comers. With a grand finale at the Glengary Highland games in Maxville on the AUgust long weekend (possibly the start of a U13 festival…)
For minors, the Blues minor program was the 2nd largest minor program, in only its 3rd year. We were just behind Kingston who have a whole town to themselves. The program has grown beyond expectations, great job to Duff, Mick and all the minor coaches/mangers and support staff.
Many changes at Rugby Canada for 2018. The Minor and Juniors are moving to the odd age grade category (U7, U9… U19). As well, our U12s become U13s and also become Juniors. U11 will see both flag and contact introduced. The club will offer both U11 co-ed flag and co-ed contact rugby. The U13s will be running their first U13 girls team. We do hope to start a U1 or U17 girls team if coaches can be found. There are strong numbers at the junior girls level, all they need are coaches (2 per age grade) to get it started.
We will be holding a 5 year strategic review, early in the new year. Our last 5 year goal have, for the most part, been achieved. We are atop the Quebec Super Rugby League, and knocking on the door of the Ontario Marshall Premiership League.
Senior Men’s and U19
We will be fielding a men’s 3rds team for 2018. At the start of June we did not have the numbers; two weeks after folding the side we had 6-8 new players sign up for a half season (vacation, work, school,…) which owuld have been enough to field a team. This year the U19s will be run with the men’s program (most 19 year olds already play mens). This will afford the opportunity to continue their rep-level program (Rugby Ontario, Voyageurs) and allow them to play the level most confortable for them (3 teams to pick from), and the best senior men’s coaching staf in Eastern Ontario! We can also look at matches for our U19s vs U18 touring sides, Quebec U18, etc… Depends upon coaching availability!
Blues Classics (aka Old Boys, over 35s)
With the great success of our Old Boys at the Vintages, we should hopefully be able to field a team for next year, 4-5 matches and an old boys festival would be the right number of games (also with the 3rds, an opportunity to play the odd match).
The juniors will now be U13, U15 and U17. We will be one of the few clubs which can field at least 1 team at each age group. We will be fielding 2 boys U13 teams and 1 U13 girls side for 2018.
For the U15 and 17s, we are actively looking at arranging an “Elite” exhibition schedule with other top level clubs in Ontario (Oakville, Brantford, Peterborough, Oshawa, Beaconsfield etc…). As well, we have touring sides in July for the lads. The plan is to get quality games for the players who need to be challenged. And for those with less experience, games more suited to their abilities. We plan on alternating the travel (2018 Oakville come here, 2019 we go to Oakville, as a potential example).
In 2018, the age grade change will change the look of our minors. We will now have a U7, U9 and U11 flag rugby (all under minor program). We will also be running a U11 “intro-to-contact” rugby. Mick Yetman and a couple of U12 coaches, along with U10 coaches whose kids are moving up to contact, will be running the program. The U11 game is modeled similar to the U12 last year (8 players per side, slightly smaller field).
Excited for 2018, Advance!
Bytown Blues RFC – President