The Pirate women are seeking a head coach for the 2018 season, with the potential of extension. Please click the link below to see the full posting.
World rugby law book rule #6.A.4 (a) “The referee is the sole judge of fact and of law…”
It’s amazing how a phrase can change meaning to a person over time. When I started playing rugby, years ago, I had Dave Bailey tell me that… and I hated it. What that phrase meant to me was I wasn’t going to win any argument I had at the time with the referee that had just said it to me.
I started playing rugby when I was 16 years old as a way to hang out with friends and be able to take out physical aggression without getting in trouble for it. After a couple years break after junior rugby I managed to let someone talk me back into the game. I have had some of the best times of my life playing rugby. I have met lifelong friends from around the world, and obviously from here at home, I have learned more about myself in my time on the pitch than I would have ever thought would be possible from a sport.
I loved the feeling of waking up on a Saturday morning, nervous and excited to play the match we had trained all week for. Even the drive to the pitch had it’s excitement for me, and the feeling I’d get the moment I’d see the posts as we pulled up was usually accompanied by a drop in my stomach I learned to love. I usually liked to get to the pitch early on game days to settle in and see the rest of the team arrive. It really is something to see each guy you’ve trained with show up on game day switched on in their own individual ways. The forwards usually show up with an intensity that is brought on by their need to hit someone, and the backs seem to arrive with a jovial attitude – laughing and keeping loose… for the most part. When I was younger, I hated the nerves. They used to almost make me sick before each kickoff, just simply anticipating the match, and they always stayed until the first hit of the match, and then for the next 80 minutes nothing in the world mattered but what was on that 100×70 meter piece of land. 80 minutes of aggression, strategy, teamwork, and fun.
I loved the game – almost to a fault as my wife would say – and was primed for another great season. I had trained through the winter, actually improved my cardio (and I HATE cardio) and felt great about the upcoming season until, in the time it took to break the defensive line in a seven’s match and throw a stiff arm, my future in rugby changed. I ended up getting tackled during the stiff arm and felt something weird in my shoulder. I called for a sub and walked to the trainer on the sideline telling her for some reason I wasn’t able to lift my arm up anymore. I had been hurt a few times before during games, so I figured that I would drink it off for the day (it was rugby fest after all) and after a few weeks I tried to play in another league game… It didn’t go well, as I dislocated the same shoulder. I went through this same routine for the next month or so until I finally took some advice and went to a doctor. What I had done weeks before turned out to be a torn labrum and a piece of bone broken clean off, resulting in surgery to repair the labrum and 5 screws to hold everything together. My rugby playing days were effectively done.
I found out over the next year or so anything I thought was tough while playing – the training, the matches, getting up in the morning feeling the pain from everything, even the hangovers – nothing was tougher than having to watch from the sidelines. I stuck around the club for a season to help as much as I was able to, but eventually having to watch was getting harder and harder – especially as I started getting healthier but knowing that I wasn’t able to play. The need to do something in rugby became increasingly more prominent every time I was anywhere near a pitch. I had coached in previous years and loved doing so, but I didn’t quite have the time or the best schedule due to working a shift that occupied my later evenings and nights more than 50% of the time.
“Everyone knows that any organized sport needs only a few things. A venue, two teams, and a referee.”
I decided to take an offer that had been extended out numerous times from our local refereeing society to all of the rugby clubs in the city, as they’re always looking to increase the number of younger referees in the sport. I accepted the offer to take a level 1 course in the city, if for nothing else to gain a different view on the interpretation of the rules from a refereeing perspective. It’s always been an unwritten rule in rugby, and sports in general, to “play to the referee” so learning how a referee sees the game I figured would be beneficial if I was lucky enough to be able to play or coach again at some point. Of course, once the course was complete, I was tossed into my first high school tournament to ref. The first couple of matches in my first tournament went off without a problem, but I quickly found out what the biggest hurdle would be for my transition from playing into refereeing. Normally in my past experience, when something would go awry in a rugby match while playing, we had been taught to “sort it out” on the pitch, whether that be waiting for the perfect time to make a big hit, or otherwise. In my third match of refereeing I made a call that was, at best, questionable and heard it from the receiving team’s coach. I was stunned… furious… and rattled. I knew I was in a position where I had to be professional and uphold the standard of the game, but at the same time I wanted to lash out at the coach and put him in his place. It was then I knew there was going to be a transition period from player to ref.
Through my relatively short time referring I have learned there are what I consider to be four ways to interpret every rule and call made on the field. The fan, coach, player and then the ref. I always thought as a player and coach I knew the rules of rugby fairly well, well enough that I had no problem yelling at the referee when they made a call that I didn’t agree with, but that way of thinking changed when I picked up the whistle.
When I initially started refereeing, I didn’t think it would be a long term hobby. I thought I would get certified and it would be just another course under my belt, as I didn’t think I would like it enough to spend an abundance of time doing. As I started to get a few more matches under my belt I became more comfortable on the pitch with the whistle, making calls (correctly) and started to find more and more enjoyment out of reffing. One of the things I didn’t enjoy at the beginning of my time reffing was the singularity of being out on the pitch without the support of a team behind and around me, something I had gotten used to as a player. It’s a “different” feeling when you’re out there on the pitch and have 15 players plus coaches and fans angry with a call you’ve made, and you haven’t got anyone readily backing you up. What I soon realized as I moved forward in refereeing, is the refereeing society is much more of a team than anyone may know or realize. What kept me coming back to the Edmonton Rugby Union Referee Society was the emphasis they put on inclusion of their members. Once I was introduced to a few of the other referees, they were thrilled to have me and treated me as someone they wanted to keep around for a long time. I had multiple offers for coaching, members constantly offered tips and advice to help me along the way to getting comfortable as a referee on and off the pitch.
Through refereeing I have already had the opportunity to have many coaching sessions from highly ranked mentors from within the province as well as national panel members, but most recently I was fortunate enough to be sent down to Sacramento California to attend a referee coaching seminar led by some high level members of the USA rugby refereeing community and actively referee the largest high school level tournament that included the previous national varsity champion sides. Having the opportunity to ref younger generations with such a high ceiling while getting actively coached on my ability and refereeing skills allowed me to further improve my game and build confidence in myself on the pitch.
Going into the 2017 rugby season, I now consider myself almost completely transitioned from player to referee and can notice the changes in the way I see the game being played. When I watch pro level rugby it’s funny to find myself seeing more of the pitch, challenging myself to make the calls that are being called on the field. My pre-season prep has changed from preparing for the physicality of the game as a player to the agility, continuous movement, and knowledge of the law book required as a referee. I find myself being able to plan more of my summer to camp with my family due to the more flexible schedule refereeing accompanies. Continuing to ref has allowed me to keep challenging myself to improve my knowledge of the game, fitness, and professionalism when representing the game.
I may not be playing the game that I love first hand but I still get to be a big part, interact with the players, and keep up with the sport I’ve been enthralled with for the last 17 years.
— Thanks to our latest blogger, Thomas Hyland. While we are a little late posting the blog, it is with good reason — he is now a first time dad and was reasonably delayed by all the cuddling and golf watching he’s been doing with his new son. The Pirates would like to extend our sincerest congratulations to him and his wife on their new addition and can’t wait to see him out at the club.
For more information on becoming a referee, please contact the Edmonton Rugby Union Referees’ Society (firstname.lastname@example.org). They also have Level 1 Referee Clinics coming up soon on April 27, with a high school tournament April 28/29 and May 4, with a high school tournament May 5/6. Check out the Edmonton Rugby Union website for more details.
Rugby is played in seasons, and in Alberta, that means outdoor practice starts in April, and the season wraps in September. Six months is all we get here. I know that there are things done to extend the season – sevens series, CIS season in the fall, and snow sevens are a few of the ways that we try to squeeze as much rugby as possible into the year, but ultimately, rugby is played in seasons.
Rugby has also been played in almost all of the seasons of my life. I’ve been lucky to be involved in the game in many different roles and ways. I started my career in high school, which led me to play other team sports in high school. I’ve played strictly for fun, and I’ve played for competition. I’ve recruited my sister to play with me. I’ve stood pregnant on the sidelines and watched my team win a city championship. I’ve stepped back onto the field within a month of having my daughter. I’ve coached high school, club, and representative teams. I’ve refereed. I’ve held administrative positions. I’ve volunteered in many different capabilities. I’ve been a tournament organizer. I’ve been a mom of rugby players. I’ve been a mom that is also a rugby player. I’ve had my kids on the sidelines cheering me on, but unable to recognize me because of the scrum cap. I’ve played and got really fit, and I’ve played less fit. I’ve been a captain, and I’ve been a manager. I’ve played for two different clubs, and worn many more jerseys than that in the spirit of getting a game going. I’ve played every position in the pack, and everything in the backs except for fullback (I was a wing in grade 10). I’ve watched the club expand their women’s side to two teams, and I’ve played in years where we couldn’t field a full 15 players for games. I’ve been on tour with the women’s team, as a club, as a coach, with the men’s team. I’ve acted as a trainer for the Pirate teams. I have made my very best friends in this sport, and these friendships have lasted for years, even as our own relationships to rugby have changed. I have covered myself with rugby, in every possible way that I have found.
Over the course of my rugby career, I’ve changed from an awkward, 15-year old high school student to a confident, outgoing 33-year old with two children. And in that time, rugby has always been able to meet my needs, no matter the season of my life.
It fulfilled my need to build confidence when I was shy and awkward and it’s given me a place where I can work on building the confidence of others. You can only win rucks when you are confident.
It fulfilled my need to be a leader in many capacities and this experience has prepared me for the work that I do now. It has also made me a better follower after having had a leadership role, because I have a greater understanding of the demands that leadership places on people.
It fulfilled my need to find something to do with myself that was physical, but also social. It is always there for me, regardless of my current level of fitness, and my teammates are some of the most supportive people around. It’s there, pushing me to do better. It shows my kids that all body types contribute and are valued in this sport.
It has fulfilled my need to stay involved when sidelined by pregnancy, to be involved after I’ve had children, and has given me a place where I can bring the kids and they will be greeted by everyone in the building. It’s a place where my kids feel safe and have fun, knowing that there will be a couple of other kids looking for activity.
It’s allowed me to share something that I love with my kids, and to watch them pick it up with the same joy and abandon that I have. Minis rugby is a great way for kids to experience the game for the first time, instead of waiting until high school.
In all the seasons of my life, rugby has been exactly what I need it to be. Check us out and see what it can be to you.
This past season, Pirates celebrated the 20th anniversary of the women’s team, with many of the alumni coming out. It was a really great event that highlighted how much this sport has impacted each of our lives. More recently, one of our women’s team members, DJTP, threw a party. While it was tied to a specific life event, it ended up being a party celebrating our female camaraderie. In honour of International Women’s Day this month (March 8th), we are posting a small, and slightly edited, excerpt from the speech at that party. It wasn’t just a celebration of that life event, it was a celebration of how sport brings women together and teaches us friendship, strength, and independence while providing a support system when we need it. Cheers to all the #womeninsport!
What is weird to me is that the only times that a group of women really get together to celebrate another woman’s life is when she is going to become a wife or a mother. Nothing is wrong with either of those things obviously, and they should be celebrated. But I don’t know why we don’t celebrate each others other big moments with actual events, especially since it’s 2017 and not everyone will do either of those things. I’m 100% sure I won’t be having a baby shower and 99% sure a bridal shower is out of the question as well, so that left me feeling like I was never going to get a party where we celebrate an important milestone for me. And I’m sure some of you feel the same way. It’s nice to be the center of attention and have others congratulate you on a big moment. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting that moment once in your life!
I’m so crazy happy that you guys are my friends and that I have such an amazing support system of women. It seems like the world wants us to just hate each other all the time, and I think that’s what keeps us as a gender down instead of backing each other up. We do so much crazy s***. We work in industries we aren’t supposed to, like the oil patch and as managers and in science and math and in trades, and we buy our own houses and dogs and cats BY OURSELVES. We raise our own kids and we travel the world alone or with each other. We unabashedly play and love sports we aren’t supposed to.
I grew up at Pirates and watched a bunch of crazy women beat the s*** out of each other on the pitch, then run along the sidelines in flipflops and sports bras while yelling at the mens team to sort their s***, head back in to this building and slam a beer and then head home to careers and homes and families and kill it in life. Those were the women I grew up watching, and they obviously had an impact on me in a big and great way. My goal was just to be one of those chicks.
For those of you who are having kids, please do and have a bunch, cause this group is who needs to be raising the next generation. And I have no doubt that your daughters will turn out to be badasses, cause they’ll be watching us on the pitch swearing and boozing and crushing life and know that they can do the same. But really, teach your sons and nephews and godchildren that the women who don’t need them are the women they want and that those women are desirable. Cause then we’ll have a generation of men who think equality is normal and holy f***, do we ever need that.
Cause the more we can see each other achieve, the more we know we can do the same. And then we can pass that on to those little girls on the sidelines watching us that it’s normal and good that you can have female friends who matter as much or more than husbands and boyfriends.
Hoping to see some new ladies out on the pitch this season!
I came to the Pirates in a rather uncommon way. I’m not from Edmonton, I didn’t know a single girl on the team; I didn’t even know where the club was before I joined. Having recently moved to Fort Saskatchewan from Bonnyville, I was a new to the area and was finding it hard to meet people and make friends. Originally from Ontario, I was just getting comfortable in Bonnyville and this second move had left me without my family and with no sense of community. Needless to say, I wasn’t enjoying myself and felt pretty alone.
Enter Pirates Rugby club! After speaking (and drinking) with a friend who was coaching the Cold Lake team, I decided to end my seven-year hiatus and find a new club. Being the millennial that I am, I turned to Google to find a club close by and the Edmonton Pirates Rugby Club came up! In my fearless, inebriated state, I emailed the women’s coach, Randi, asking about the team. She promptly replied, inviting me to come out, watch practice and meet the girls. I’ll admit, I was out of my comfort zone showing up to a practice for a team I didn’t belong to full of women I’d never met, but I got over my hesitation and showed up on a hot Tuesday in June. Randi introduced me to a couple of girls and we spoke about the schedule. I made the decision to commit to the team later that day; I missed the sport and thought that it would be a good opportunity to make some friends!
The next time I showed up to practice, Randi introduced me to the rest of the girls and I jumped right into the drills. It definitely took some work to get my skills back, but it was never something that I worried about because I always had such a good time. I can honestly say that I have never played for a team in any sport that has been so welcoming, inclusive, and supportive. Even though I was a complete stranger to these women, they made me feel like a Pirate from day one. Rugby practice quickly became the place where I could go to see my friends and have a great time, even on fitness days. Now that’s saying something.
The camaraderie extends beyond the field, too. Whether it’s going out for beers after practice, joining the team book club, or just meeting up for coffee and a good chat, I always feel welcome. What’s more, as a vegan, parties and social events usually mean going hungry for the night; but regardless of the occasion, if it’s a Pirates party, someone always makes sure I’m well fed. This club has an amazing sense of community that I count myself lucky to be a part of!
I know I’ve spoken a lot about the women’s team in particular, but I truly cannot say enough good things about this club as a whole. They’ve got strong leadership, they play fantastic rugby, and they’re great friends. So take it from me, whether you’re a guy or a girl, new to the sport, getting back into it, or a seasoned vet – if you’re looking for a club, a Pirates life is for you!
“I played everything. I played lacrosse, baseball, hockey, soccer, track and field. I was a big believer that you played hockey in the winter and when the season was over you hung up your skates and you played something else.” – Wayne Gretzky
Nothing like starting off a blog with a quote from a token famous athlete, none other than The Great One… But his words on multi-sport participation ring true. There has been a ton of recent research to support and encourage multi- sport participation, mostly of young, developing athletes, but the benefits are seen at any age and skill level. We know that being a multi-sport athlete helps to prevent injuries caused by overuse of muscles associated with repetitive movements, avoid burnout of athletes who specialize in sports too young or too quickly, and increases overall athletic ability and performance.
I was a multi-sport athlete. I grew up playing hockey in the winter, baseball in the summer, and doing competitive dance all year round. By the time I was in junior high, I took multi-sport athlete to a whole new level. I was playing on two different hockey teams (a boys and a girls team) from fall to spring, volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter, badminton in the spring, a baseball and a softball team in the summer, and dancing all year. And this continued into high school, where I replaced badminton with rugby in the spring and summer. Some may see this as incredibly insane, I see it differently. I loved playing all these sports and how the skills from each helped to develop me in the other sports I played.
So, how does playing other sports actually benefit rugby players?
Baseball/Softball/and I guess (begrudgingly) Slo-Pitch – Note: these are technically all different sports
Dance, Gymnastics, and Figure Skating
Thanks to Tara Sliwkanich, former Baseball Canada national team and Rugby Canada U-20 member, for her perspective on how rugby both benefits and is benefited by participation in multiple sports.
We hear it all the time in sports, “it’s more than just a game.” Well, you’re going to hear it again. Rugby is more than just a game, it’s an avocation and a passion. Rugby is blood, sweat, and tears. It’s commitment, hard work, and sacrifices. It’s hundreds of dollars in beer, sunscreen, and mosquito repellent. And it’s worth it all.Every rugby player has woken up on a Sunday morning and questioned why we play a game that leaves us feeling like a truck had hit us the day before, and each of us are back on the pitch the following week. It is difficult to explain our love of rugby to someone that has never played rugby, but here is my best attempt.
One of the best things about rugby is the camaraderie. I began playing rugby 11 years ago, and my closest friends today are still those I learned to play rugby with all those years ago, and I have made countless friendships along the way. Any rugby player, from any club, anywhere in the world will tell you that there is no bond like the bonds formed by rugby teammates (especially second rows with their front rows), and even opponents. A rugby club is a family; whether you are a rookie, veteran, or alumnus, you will always be a part of the club, and the members of the club will always have your back. I will always, always be a Pirate. Each year I have played, I have met incredible people, from all walks of life, that I know I can count on both on and off the pitch.
Although we complain about the soreness and weather and mosquitos and fitness, we all miss weeknight practices and weekend games as soon as the season ends (well, maybe one week after), and anticipate the new season all winter. Beyond the training and the competition, the culture and sportsmanship embedded in rugby is like no other. Rugby can be seen as violent and intimidating, but at its core, it is a sport that is about respect, gamesmanship, and integrity as much as it is about the backwards pass. We all train to be the best, and we all play to win; but at the end of the day, we are all there and we sacrifice so much to be there, not because anyone pays us or watches us, but because we just love to be there.
Rugby is much more than “just a game.” However, it is a game, and it is a game that is dynamic, physical, inclusive, and fun to play. I love rugby because anyone can play, regardless of size or ability. I love rugby because being a good rugby player isn’t all about speed or strength or skill (although having those things do not hurt); it’s about heart, hustle, and tenacity. It’s about running without fear, taking down someone twice your size, getting up when you’re down, and pushing until the eightieth minute. It’s about supporting your teammates (even when you’re dead tired and all they are doing is running sideways), chasing down every ball (even when it’s a tight game and your prop goes for a left-footed chip and chase), and giving everything in the scrum (even when the backs drop the ball for the 19th time in 2.5 minutes). The game can take someone that is timid and unsure, and turn them into someone that is confident and fearless. Pre-game always feels like a calm before a storm, but when the first whistle is blown, any nervousness and doubt disappears, and the adrenaline takes over.
Over the last decade, rugby has had a huge impact on the person I’ve become. Not because of where the sport has taken me, but what the sport has given me: friends to last a lifetime, discipline, dedication, and fearlessness, confidence in my own strengths and abilities, leadership and teamwork skills, and opportunities to be apart of a community that is much bigger than a game; I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Rugby is a culture, a passion, a family; and everything about it is perfect (except sometimes the officiating).
Can’t wait for rugby season.
New Year’s Resolutions. Love them or hate them, they are a tradition as old as the Babylonians, who used to promise the gods to repay their debts and return items borrowed from others. While resolutions are often reserved for the individual, the Edmonton Rugby Football Club does have some lofty goals for the 2017 season – developing a more diverse social climate, running a second senior women’s team, rebuilding our men’s program, and growing rugby in our junior ranks. When searching for examples of the ‘best’ rugby programs for inspiration, there is no doubt the All Blacks would clearly be considered top dog using many metrics: they have never ranked lower than third in the World Rugby rankings, they are the winners of the most World Cups, holding three championships, and they were the first to successfully defend a World Cup championship title. But even the best clubs go through transitions. In 2003, the All Blacks faced their lowest world ranking, forcing the program go through an overhaul. The basic premise was ‘better people make better All Blacks’. The results speak for themselves: other than a couple of periods between 2007 and 2009, the All Blacks have been first in the world rankings. The strategies implemented by the organization were outlined in Legacy: 15 Lessons in Leadership, written by James Kerr, who followed the team in early 2010. If you’re looking for some inspiration for your own rugby resolutions, grab the book, or check out this summary blog by Gavin Hickie.
There is an intimate link between individual attitude and club or team success. The culture of the All Blacks is summed up in two words: ‘No Dickheads.’ They have a team-first policy. Their values funnel down from that statement and are enforced by the members themselves. For 2017, some of the board members have decided to share their resolutions for promoting a club culture we can all be proud to be a part of. See if you can match the resolution with the board member!
To be more punctual for practices and games. To let cooler heads prevail on the field and let go of disagreements with referees.
To finish every project I start. I have too many half completed projects.
To introduce myself to any new players I see at the club.
To contribute to club unity by bringing back more social events.
To focus on three basic principles: inclusiveness, competition, and success.
To make sure no one goes alone, on or off the field.
To grow my capacity as a leader, as well as others, and develop a stronger connection between the men’s and women’s programs.
To encourage volunteerism within the club by acting as a model of it myself and publicly acknowledging the contributions of others.
Wishing all of our friends and family the best in the coming New Year. We look forward to sharing our success stories with you as we take the pitch.
The 2016 Banquet is scheduled for October 29th at the Kingsway Legion.
Early Bird Price (Now-Oct 7th) – $40
October 8th-22nd – $50
Couples Package – 2 for $80 (Available until Oct 22nd)
Contact Jordan at Jordanwithers@hotmail.com for more information