Rugby from Cradle to Grave? Not in Canada it Now Ends at 77
A player from one of the local over 40 clubs sent me a frantic note, "Rugby Canada is apparently banning anyone over the age of 77 from playing rugby in Canada. No discussion, no announcement, but two of our members tried to register with Rugby Canada and SportLomo wouldn’t allow it because of their age. It is apparently an insurance issue."
I checked Rugby Canada's current insurance policy for the 2019/2020 season and sure enough it's written into the policy "A person’s coverage will end on the earlier of, the date he or she is no longer in an eligible class, on the date that the policy is cancelled, or on the date he or she attains 77 years of age." - Page 7 of Marsh's SUMMARY OF INSURANCE RUGBY CANADA APRIL 30, 2019 TO APRIL 30, 2020
Rugby Canada have recently introduced a number of insurance changes without any discussion or announcement that affects both ends of the age spectrum, youth tournaments and camps and now the 77+ crowd.
There aren't a lot of 77+ players in the master's leagues but they are an integral part of the leagues. You get purple shorts when you reach 80, gold shorts when you reach 70. There are special contact rules to prevent injury that respect the frailty of advancing age but those players are honoured, as they should be, for being active and still lacing up the boots. It's as if Rugby is losing a little bit of its soul by adding a 77+ limit - we've all seen the T-Shirts "Rugby from Cradle to Grave" now they'll have to add a disclaimer in small letters underneath "except in the following countries, Canada..."
I'll finish off with an article I wrote in 2008 that referenced Dr. Phil Narod a beloved and active member of the Over 40 league in BC.
Ebb Tide Host Burnaby with Dr. Phil Still Playing at 83 - The Oldest Active Player in Canada?
posted March 19 2008
I received the following match report from the Ebb Tide but the real interesting story is that Dr. Phil Narod is still lacing up the boots for the Burnaby "Twits" at 83. Over 40 rugby has a code of contact based on the colour of your shorts, white means you're 40-49 and you can be whacked, black means you're 50-59 and you can be whacked, red means you're 60-69 and you should be held up in the tackle (although you're free to whack whomever you want), yellow means you're 70-79 and you're finally at the age to be treated with some respect on the field, purple shorts means you're 80-89 and you get an ovation for just showing up. I'm not sure what happens at 90 but I think you should automatically get a try if you can make the distance. Bruce McFarlane, himself a robust red short, took the photo and asked whether Dr. Phil is the oldest active player in Canada, I would say yes unless someone out there knows differently. So here's to Dr. Phil [raise a glass of your favourite beverage] may we all be reaching the gain line at 83.