Dean On Campus Blog

Rugby: A Hooligans’ Game played by Gentleman (and Women)

Imagine spending the weekend engrossed in rugby talk. Thanks to Queen’s alumnus, Dr. David Cook, I enjoyed a rugby-filled weekend. David invited my son Josh and me to join him and his son Alastair for the Queen’s Rugby “Old Boys” golf tournament at Glen Lawrence this past Friday. It was a great day of golf, great company from the dedicated Queen’s rugby crowd, and lots of fun and laughter.  Over 100 Queen’s Rugby alumni and friends formed a relatively rowdy crowd, a crowd that did justice the to the finest of rugby traditions.  Master of ceremonies, Ron Easteal was in fine form.

The rugby theme continued on Saturday with the Canada-U.S. match at Richardson Field. All was good, with our boys defeating the Americans, in an entertaining match, 28-25. Fortunately for me, my son, who played rugby for McGill and now for a club team called the Toronto Scottish, was able to act as my interpreter for the game. I think I am finally learning the difference between a scrum and a ruck, I understand that a “maul” does not necessarily involve bears, and now know that a “knock-on” has to do with dropping the ball as opposed to a song by Amii Stewart.1 I also understand now why most of the Queen’s Rugby “Old Boy’s” have avoided mid life crises…they are all stuck in adolescence!



Canadian rugby dates back to 1864 when artillerymen played each other in Montreal. “The first international game in North America was on May 5, 1874 between Harvard University and Montreal’s McGill University at Cambridge, Mass also being the 1st Rugby game played in the United States.”3 Queen’s has had a vibrant rugby program since 1881, and now boasts one of the largest university rugby organizations with seven Gaels men’s teams and one Gaels women’s team engaged in inter-university play.4 And the Gaels have been prolific champions. In the last 25 years of OUA competition, the tricolor have been champions twelve times!

If you have any rugby stories to share, please comment on the blog…or better yet, please stop by the Macklem House, my door is always open.









8 Responses to Rugby: A Hooligans’ Game played by Gentleman (and Women)

  1. Rick Riopelle says:

    Richard’s note reminds me of the definition of a ‘Gentleman’ passed on to me in a pub on a recent trip to the UK;

    ‘……….. an individual who is expert at playing (fill the blank), but doesn’t’!


  2. Al Ferguson says:

    The real background to the “hooligans game played by gentlemen” goes back to the origins of rugby in the private schools of the UK where it was originally played exclusively by the upper class, fortunately a very historical perspective, or I would never have seen the game.
    I am delighted you enjoyed the weekend Richard, I truly look forward to these occasions, although I seem to regret them for a few days afterwards.
    I think you are perhaps correct about us as Queen’s Rugby Alumni being stuck in adolescence, and am absolutely determined to take that as the ULTIMATE compliment.

    • reznickr says:

      Please feel so complimented. And thanks for the clarification of the origin of the phrase.


      • Rick Rowland says:

        I never saw a rugby game until I reached university, and ended up playing for the McGill first XV, using Canadian football skills and only a passing understanding of the Laws.
        I believe the reference to Rugger being played at English Public (private) schools attended by the upper class is true. However, I always imagined it had to be played by gentlemen, because there are so many opportunities for mayhem that the game would degenerate into warfare, if not for the restraint and sportsmanship of the players.
        In addition, Rugby players make light of any injuries: Soccer players seem to dramatize the least little thing, disqualifying them from “gentleman” status.

  3. Richard Thomas says:

    Thanks for mentioning the Queen’s Rugby Alumni weekend in Dean on Campus. Some of my fondest memories of my ten years (slow learner) at Queen’s were associated with rugby both on and off the field. Rugby created many long lasting friendships and an everlasting relationship with Queen’s.
    It was a pleasure meeting both yourself and Josh on the rugby w/e. Keep up the good work with Dean on Campus. It is just another way of keeping alumni in touch.

    Richard (Richie Rugger) Thomas
    BA (Hons) ’70, Meds ’78

    • reznickr says:

      Thanks Richard,

      It was terrific meeting you and enjoying a round of golf with a bunch of rugby fanatics. Look forward to seeing you again. Remember, my door is always open (especially to Queen’s Rugby supporters).


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