SOUTH SURREY â€” Who says rugby is a young manâ€™s game?
The Semiahmoo Old Boys R.F.C â€“ Baysideâ€™s over-40 rugby club â€“ has been selected to host an exhibition game against Osaka, Japanâ€™s Gentlemen Rugby Club during its 10-day tour of the province.
While members of the peninsula-based team have faced the international club on behalf of other B.C. teams, this is the first time the Semiahmoo Old Boys have been chosen for the honour.
â€œWeâ€™re a fairly young club â€“ weâ€™re only 20 years old,â€ said Semiahmoo secretary Ian Stagg. â€œNormally, they come over and play the older clubs that are 30 or 40 years old, so for a younger club like us to be chosen to play against the Japanese on tour is very special.â€
Out of about a dozen Old Boys clubs in B.C., the Gentlemen R.F.C. is only playing against three teams on its tour, including Semiahmoo. The other two are the Burnaby Twilighters and the Ebb Tide Rugby Club from Victoria.
â€œWeâ€™ve built up a relationship with the Japanese in a very short space of time, and I think thatâ€™s why they want to play us,â€ said Stagg, who previously played against the Gentlemen R.F.C. four years ago with the Priest Valley Vicars in Kelowna.
Stagg noted that Old Boys rugby originated in Japan after the Second World War. In an effort to lift their spirits, soldiers got various sports going again, with rugby being among the first.
Maybe thatâ€™s why theyâ€™re so good at it in old age.
â€œThey might be smaller, but theyâ€™re fit, they train hard, and they have a lot of players,â€ said Stagg, recalling his two-and-a-half-week stay in Japanâ€™s second largest city.
â€œOld Boys Rugby is actually very popular there,â€ added Semiahmoo president Matt Falkner. â€œTheyâ€™ll have a lot of gentlemen that will continue well on into their 60s and 70s. Theyâ€™ll keep going.â€
Semi will actually host two matches against the Gentlemen R.F.C.: One for players under 60, the other for players over 60. Afterward, a reception will be held for the opposing team at the White Rock Rotary Club.
Both games are on Tuesday, May 5 at the South Surrey Athletic Park at 6 p.m. Coun. Bruce Hayne is scheduled to give a brief pre-game presentation on behalf of the city at 5:30 p.m.