A group of Greater Victoria rugby players are showing the love of the game knows no boundaries.
Age and geography were no barriers to the Ebb Tide Rugby Club as they hosted a visiting team from Japan at Windsor Park last week, with the players aged right into their 80s.
“It’s very much slow-motion rugby,” said the Ebb Tide’s Dave Knox with a laugh. “And we take very good care of our 80-year-olds, so they won’t be flattened.”
The Ebb Tide is made up of players over the age of 40 from throughout Greater Victoria, competing in the Pacific Northwest Over 40’s Rugby Union with teams from the Lower Mainland, Nanaimo, Kelowna and Seattle. The Ebb Tide squared off last week against the Osaka Gentleman, an over-40 team from Japan featuring a pair of 80-year-olds (although they were both nursing injuries and unable to suit up for the match). While the Ebb Tide’s regular roster features players from their 40s into their 70s, they brought out 83-year-old Bryan Holmes for the game at Windsor Park.
“He doesn’t play any more, but he only quit three or four years ago,” said Knox. “He [came] out for this one particular game because there’s a couple of 80-year-olds on the touring team.”
Knox said the players wear different coloured shorts based on the decade they were born in.
“That way you can tell the age of the person on the field if you’re about to tackle him,” said Knox, 63. “So if you’re going to tackle somebody the same age as you, it’s fair game, but if he’s 30 years older than you then you go a bit easier.”
Knox said the Ebb Tide has been going for more than 40 years, making seven or eight trips to Japan during that time and playing host to close to a dozen Japanese teams.
“So it’s been a long-standing tradition,” he said.
The Ebb Tide regularly play their games in James Bay, but as those fields have been converted for baseball, the game was moved to Oak Bay. Knox estimates about a dozen of the team’s 55 regular players are from Oak Bay.
“From now until September we practice every Thursday at Windsor Park, and I use the term practise lightly,” he said.
For more information on the Ebb Tide, visit www.ebbtiderugby.com.