KRC celebrates 43rd birthday

Paddy Harrington, one of the elder statesmen of the Kamloops Rugby Club, summarizes the club's alumni day the best way possible.

"A lot of the old guys come out, and we know each other," he says. "We know each other well actually - we've beaten our heads in together."

Harrington, the KRC's secretary, helped organize an alumni day to coincide with the start of the home half of the Raiders senior teams` seasons Saturday.

Two of the KRC`s senior teams won their games - the Raiders women beat Burnaby Lake 31-27, and the KRC firsts hammered Surrey 63-12. The Raiders seconds lost 40-14 to Surrey.

Saturday, which was as nice a day as they come in late September, was a celebration of the club's 43-year history.

But it also was about the matches. Harrington, who first joined the KRC in 1976 as a player and has held various titles over the last 34 years, was one of those yelling encouragement to the three KRC teams, who provided about six hours of entertainment to about 100 fans and former players.

"It's a great sport; it has changed and it's definitely faster now," Harrington says. "Just the same, it's a game we really enjoy playing. . . . You always have friends in this game, no matter where you are."

Rugby isn't the No. 1 sport for many in Kamloops, but those who love it, love it lots.

Saturday's crowd was made up of a giant cross-section of folks - young ones, old ones, some originally from Kamloops, others who came later.

And as much as they love the sport, a lot of the fans took advantage of the opportunity to catch up with old friends.

"The primary reason for me coming out is to watch rugby," says Stephen Harrison, who first came to the club in 1980 as a player, and also served as a club officer in the 1980s.

"But I do enjoy talking to some of these old fellows. They like to complain about how well we played in the old days compared to these young guys, but I don't pay attention to that," he adds, with a laugh.

The KRC was founded in 1967 by a group that included Russ Chambers, who is still involved.

The Raiders started in an exhibition league against teams from Prince George, Merritt and Vancouver, before a Thompson-Okanagan league was formed in the 1970. Kamloops won the league each year from 1980 to 1983 went on to win B.C. Division 3 championships in 1983 and 1984, before joining the Fraser Valley union in 1985.

Last season, the KRC seconds made it all the way to the B.C. Rugby Union Division 3 final, and the Raiders women also made it to the provincial final.

One of the biggest accomplishments the KRC can boast however, is having had seven players move on to national teams, including two to the senior men's team - Garth Cooke and Garth Fraser.

"We've had seven players play for Canada," Harrington says.
"(Fraser) was a Merritt boy, but he played most of his high school out here. We've had kids made the under-19 and under-21 teams."

The KRC also is proud of its community work - part of the cost of its social memberships goes into a scholarship fund, which gives money out to graduating students.

"Rugby is a team event, so everyone who applies, we try to share it among them," Harrington said. "We obviously have some criteria . . . and some kids rank higher based on the criteria, and get a little more. Last year, we gave out $125 to $250 per person."

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On Saturday, the KRC firsts got two tries apiece from Dustin Nilsson and Mark Farmer, along with singles from Mitch Sonneson, Trevor (Jughead) Jensen, Cole Greer, Marshall Munson and Lee Kushniruk, who also made five conversions and a penalty kick.

The KRC seconds got their tries from Nigel Wilson and Kevin Hall and two conversions from Brandon Kicia.

The women's tries came courtesy of Emily Young and Tawnee Abbott, with two apiece, and Maria Grant. Dani Grant made three conversions.

mhunter@kamloopsnews.ca

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