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September 28 2020


Denny Veitch - BC tour to Japan 1959
© BC Sports Hall of Fame

Pat Dunkley - Rugby Tough; Rugby Costs in Australia; Denny Veitch BC Sports Hall of Fame [article rerun from 2014 based on today's BC Sports Hall of Fame Reminder of Danny Veitch]



originally posted Dec 12 2014

[ed. we reran this article today based on a tweet by Jason Beck, the curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame, "Happy birthday to @BCSportsHall Honoured Member: Denny Veitch (1931) Builder, Multi-Sport - An inspirational rugby player who later became GM of the 1973 Canada Summer Games, BC Lions, and Vancouver Whitecaps. Read his bio: https://bcsportshall.com/honoured_member/denny-veitch/]

A few articles sent in. One written by Kaevon Khoozani who played for the Bays but also was part of the Burnaby Div 1 championship team last year. He did a write-up on Pat Dunkley.

Another article was submitted by a reader and looks at the rising cost of rugby in Australia and the columnist's point of view is that the national team should pick up some of the cost so the base of the pyramid can get wider. Think about this issue in the Canadian context, where is the money being spent, should more trickle down to the grassroots?

The final article submitted by a reader involved Denny Vietch, a rugby player who co-founded the Vancouver Whitecaps. He was inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame.

Thanks to readers who send in articles. Remember to include the links where possible.

editor@bcrugbynews.com

The Toughest Man You've Never Heard of: Pat Dunkley
by Kaevon Khoozani

I love rugby. The discipline and protocol I learned from playing the hooligans game for gentleman, I use everyday in my own life. I love the humility it teaches, the work ethic, and the grit you build by playing it. Unlike it's cousin, American football, there's no time for bum pats or high fives every time you do anything of minor importance. Just smashed someone into next Tuesday? Good for you. Get your ass up and go do it again and again. And unlike it's older brother, soccer, where discipline is more of an idea than a fact, and despite being a non contact game, soccer players seem to spend more time on the ground than rugby players.

Enter Pat Dunkley: 38 caps (games) for team Canada Rugby, fitness junky, flesh-eating disease survivor, with cauliflower ears not even a mother could love. The human embodiment of Rugby.

I first met “Dunks” in grade 12 as a high school student in Victoria; he helped coach my senior rugby high school team to their 3rd BC championship in 4 years. The archetypal tough guy, he would cycle across town without breaking a sweat to coach our practice, then back across town to his own brutal 2 hour practice, capped of with another 30 minutes on the bike home.

Dunkley’s rugby career actually started with hockey and wrestling, but when his family moved to Victoria, B.C. when he was 16, he soon discovered that rugby is king. Pat enrolled at Esquimalt High, close to the dockyards. Esquimalt prides itself on its rugby program, it is there he met physical education teacher and coach of the club with the most B.C. provincial titles (James Bay Athletics Association), Pete “ThreePete” Rushton.

Pat decided to give the sport a try and very quickly his talent shone through, soon playing U19 for B.C. After high school his rugby career began as many young athletes' do: trying to balance the dream and reality. Rugby was interrupted by stints as a construction worker, but he continued to train hard throughout, eventually landing a place on the now defunct Pacific pride team, Canada's U23 squad. He earned his first international cap at 25 against Japan in 1998. But when on tour in 2000, Dunks was faced with his most intense battle not just of his career, but his life.

Read More [unfortunately this link seems dead now]

Wallabies need to take a hit so grassroots rugby can survive
By Peter FitzSimons - The Sydney Morning Herald

When it comes to the sudden lift in fees for registration and insurance of rugby players, there are so many points ... and so little time. So, as the bishop said to the actress, we're going to have to be quick.

When it comes to ideal sporting models, I contend that for the last 100 years or so, the best administered football code in Australia has been Aussie rules. Their steering star has been to focus on making the base of their sporting pyramid as large as possible, in the belief that a high peak will be the natural result. And they've been proved right. AFL has always poured huge resources into expanding its playing ranks from the juniors on up, on the rightful reckoning that playing fans always become paying fans. (Plus, of course, they also put something in the water that makes Aussie rules fans completely gaga for the game ... but I digress.)

I also contend that, of the football codes, rugby union is nevertheless the one best structurally equipped to expand that base if it plays that long game and goes down that path. Consider ... Innate athleticism in fairly svelte form is a prerequisite to prosper at Aussie rules. A certain brutal toughness in a sturdy frame is required for rugby league. You have to have foot dexterity and speed to go well at soccer. But one of rugby's key selling points is its non-exclusivity. So, you're fat and slow, with no ball skills to speak of, and you'd love nothing better than to wear your IQ on your back? You can be a prop! Tall, in it for the team, with skills across the board? Into the engine room for you as a lock. Total self-obsessed dickheads – apart from you I mean, Noddy – may apply to be five-eighths, while all you blokes built like thermometers without a friend to bless yourselves with are out on the wing. If you're great, you're in the rep teams. If you're hopeless, we want you in the oh-so-proud Fighting Fifths or Struggling Sixths, or the school D, E and F teams. Very young? You're in the juniors. Very old? In the Golden Oldies. Gays with everyone, but one of the gay rugby teams if you like. In a wheelchair, then "murderball", aka wheelchair rugby, is for you. While women's rugby is taking off around the globe and is the fastest-growing sport in the US, for starters.

All put together it means that sane governance for rugby union is to take the long-term view. In order to grow that base it must do all in its power to keep barriers to playing as low as possible, employ development officers to spread the word, empower volunteers to organise and expose as many people as possible to the joys of the game, ideally via free-to-air television.

Back in the amateur days, the role of the Wallabies was to generate the income for the rest of the game to live on. Now, it feels to many, the roles are being reversed, and the wider game is being asked to help fund the Wallabies! Or, at the very least, organising it so that the Wallabies no longer help finance the wider game. It doesn't wash. This was the very point recently made by the 12 Shute Shield clubs in a letter of protest to the ARU, when they wrote that "the perception is that the ARU has abandoned community rugby, electing not to fund grassroots rugby while continually introducing new programs requiring a substantial commitment of time, resources and funding from the participants."

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Denny Vietch to B.C. Sports Hall of Fame by Gary Kingston - Vancouver Sun

One of the builders going in is Denny Veitch, a former star rugby player in the late 1950s and ‘60s who went on to become the assistant general manager and GM of the B.C. Lions and who co-founded the Vancouver Whitecaps in 1973 and served as the team manger until 1977.

It was his work developing amateur football in B.C., his ties to the Whitecaps, his stewardship of the 1973 Canada Summer Games in New Westminster and his manager’s role with the Canadian team at the inaugural Rugby World Cup that finally got him inducted as a builder on his fifth nomination.

But one of the most endearing Veitch stories is the impact he had in Japan while on a tour there with a Canadian rugby side in 1959.

The six-foot, 185-pound Veitch had lost his right arm at age six when he fell under a train, but was still a standout player. The Japanese media dubbed him the “one-armed wonder,” and he was mobbed for his autograph.

One mother brought her disabled young son 300 kilometres to Tokyo to see Veitch in action and a polio-striken teenage girl made him a Japanese doll to take back to Canada. Veitch also spent time encouraging a 14-year-old girl, who, embarrassed and isolated because of a leg amputation, had considered suicide.

“We all learned about that story and the great impact our father had . . . when it was told at his celebration of life (after he passed away in 2011),” said his daughter Deanna Lenarduzzi. “The first time the whole family heard that particular story.

“Our father was so humble. He’d talk about Japan, but he never told us about how he’d had such a positive impact there.”

Deanna, the wife of Whitecaps’ president Bob Lenarduzzi, said Denny never looked at the loss of his arm as a disability. But he worked with Rick Hansen and the B.C. Paraplegic Association.

She said the fact her dad is entering the hall the same year as two men from wheelchair rugby is significant.

“It’s fantastic. A lot of the stars aligned today,” she said, noting that it was 41 years ago Thursday that her dad announced the founding of the Whitecaps.

Read More

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