Ebb Tide – October 2022

Ebb Tide Over 40 Rugby Club Celebrating 50th Anniversary This Coming Friday and Saturday

The Ebb Tide Over 40 Rugby Club are celebrating their 50th anniversary on Friday and Saturday October 14 – 15, 2022. On the club’s website they note they are the oldest continuously operating Over-40 rugby club in British Columbia. They have active players between the ages of 38 and 70’s and active social members well into their 80’s. They are a member of the Pacific Northwest Over 40’s Rugby Union and players are eligible to play at 38 years.

The Club’s 50th anniversary poster states:

There will be a player only social starting at 7 pm Friday, October 14, at McCall’s Sequoia Centre, 4665 Falaise Drive. This will offer an opportunity for active and former members as well as “friends” of Ebb Tide from other Cascadia Masters Rugby Union clubs to share some cheer and trade stories.

On Saturday afternoon there will be matches played on Wallace Field at the University of Victoria. Depending on attendance we hope to have an under-60’s and an over-60’s match along with some refreshments. There will be a banquet on Saturday evening for players, their partners and other friends of the Ebb Tide. The Four Points by Sheraton in Langford, 829 McCallum Road (250-474-6063), is the banquet location.

Editor’s Notes

I played with the Ebb Tide from age 42 to 58 and have some great memories. Like all rugby clubs, the on field action is just a small part of the fun. The memories you make from road trips and tours, the friends you make for life, are important parts of why we play rugby.

Below are some photo galleries from the Ebb Tide 40th in 2012. Also my “chronicles” from the 2009 Ebb Tide tour to NZ. It still brings a smile to my face as the best rugby memories always do.

40th Anniversay photos by Hugh Jervis (October 2012)

40th Anniversay photos by Judy Teasdale (October 2012)

New Zealand Chronicles: Ebb Tide 2009 Tour to NZ

posted April 5 2009

Day 1

An ambitious tour this one, 6 games played in 21 days, the first in Christchurch, the last in Auckland versus the Navy. When we arrive in Queenstown after approximately 15 hours travelling we are going Bungy Jumping and Speed Boating before we even have a night’s rest.

I’m at Vancouver Airport right now having found a gem of a VIP lounge where for $30 you get all the food and booze you can consume plus wireless internet access. I’m managing to write a story in the early stages, I just hope I can find the plane afterwards.

Our itinerary is listed in this document. There’s also a map that indicates our general itinerary. Besides the 6 games and meeting the local clubs we have a BBQ with the All Blacks scrum coach, Mike Cron, setup in Christchurch, perhaps a meeting with BC referee Phil Smith in Wellington and we’ll try to see Canadian James Buchanan playing club rugby in Ashburton.

This is instalment number one, we lose 20 hours in the flight so arrive Tuesday morning NZ time or Monday morning BC time. Bring on the bungy jump!

A note about our tour program, we have a letter of introduction from the Premier Gordon Campbell. He basically writes “have fun and bring lots of Kiwis back for the 2010 Winter Olympics in BC”, fair enough I suppose. We also have a nice message from the Saanich Mayor, Frank Leonard, in the program. He writes “We wish all who are associated with this tour wonderful memories of the competition and the good sportsmanship and friendships formed through the great game of rugby”.

So our tour party of 46 awaits the 9pm take off for Auckland.

posted April 8 2009

Day 2

We finally arrived in Queenstown after flying and sitting in airports for 24 hours. We left Victoria on 4pm Sunday and arrived here 4pm on Monday or in local NZ time 11am Tuesday. For those of us that didn’t sleep on the plane it would be another 12 hours before we would see our hotel. In between we visited a local bungy facility where about half of the 46 ‘tourists’ took the dive and then all went jet boating through the rapids. Needless to say there weren’t too many midnight revellers that evening as most just wanted a shower and sleep, this was a good warm up for a gruelling 6 game, 21 day tour.

Day 3

Most of us are up at 5am still adjusting from BC time. We hit the road in the team bus and head to Christchurch stopping at various towns along the way including Ashburton where James Buchanan is playing rugby now, we don’t have time to stop however and get into our hotel about 6pm. Then it’s off to a local pub with a Vancouver connection, we meet one of the Legends (Loma Old Boys) from a few years ago who is back in New Zealand now. One of our own is celebrating his 50th birthday so the pub owner welcomes the group. Tomorrow is game day against the Shirley RFC Old Boys in Christchurch.

One side note is the high cost of internet in hotels in NZ. North American customers would be shocked at the prices they have to pay for internet access, in Canada most hotels provide free internet access to customers, in NZ they charge about $30 for a 24 hour period.

posted April 9 2009

Day 4

Well our tour matches got off to an interesting start. First you have to understand that the Easter weekend is very big in NZ, everything shuts down and people start leaving the city for their vacation spots. Apparently many of our opponents left as well. We arrived early at the park for the 4pm kick-off. 3pm went by and no sign of the opposition, 3:30 nothing, by 3:45 we saw a trickle of players in their 20s start to assemble. In the postgame speeches their captain joked “sorry we were late but we had to wait for the players to get out of school”, it was a joke but had a ring of truth, their youngest player 17, their oldest 54 and the backs were all in their 20s… and very speedy. The result was inevitable perhaps, 9 tries to 5 for them. Whenever their backs got the ball they were gone, we didn’t have the speed to shut them down in open space.

It was decided in the last 20 that we wouldn’t be spinning it wide but keeping it close and using our larger size to advantage, that worked well as we accumulated a few tries near the end of the game. A strategy that should have been maintained from the beginning. They had about seven over 40 players and they were in the forwards, when we crashed and rucked we moved the ball about 10 metres at a time but turnover ball and counter attack killed us. They had one young Maori player about 20 who would have slotted into our premier league very handily and few that could start for any first division side. Still fun was had by all. We later hosted them at a pub since their clubhouse was being used for the cricket awards dinner. Their young players finally came out of their shell after a few beer and conceded that they enjoyed the game but found tackling the larger older players a challenge “we hit you but you kept going” but as the Ebb Tide found out there is no substitute for youthful speed.

After the postgame celebration I had a chance to take in a ice hockey game (as they call it here) in the one hockey arena in the city. Apparently Auckland has two arenas and there may be a couple more to the south of the island. I was watching a local rep U20 side against a club side. The skating skills were good but the intensity of the game didn’t match the game in Canada in terms of hits, there were very few penalties. Apparently a good pair of skates cost $400 NZ here so it’s not surprising it’s still a minor sport, much like rugby in Canada. There are a number of Canadian and Russian players and coaches who participate in their local leagues.

This was the first real tour night as I got back to the hotel around 3am and Christchurch at that time looks very different with young clubbers pouring out onto the street and continuing their revelry. The clubs generally stay open until about 3 or 4 am and the downtown turns into one big party zone.

Day 5

This was the first morning I was able to sleep in and the 3am bed time may have helped the late rising. We then quickly assembled to take a ride out to the All Blacks scrum coach’s house, Mike Cron. We showed up with 40 people and 40 cases of beer with plenty of steaks, burgers and sausages. Mike was the consummate host and he has a beautiful residence overlooking the water. Some went kayaking, some enjoyed the hot tub while others broke out the musical instruments they brought with them from Victoria, 2 guitars, one trumpet (one of our players is a professional jazz musician) and one flute. It was his wife’s birthday and we serenaded her in grand tradition. We got a look at the analysis software that the All Blacks use to track their player’s performance. It was quite impressive and costs them over a million dollars since every Super 14 game is video taped and then analyzed for the coaches to dissect. Imagine a spreadsheet with every Super 14 player listed, you click on the player and get a large set of game statistics on that player: tackles, missed tackles, passes, runs, rucks, turnovers, kicks, and much more. Then you click on any statistic for that player and see the video clip. For example if someone missed two tackles then the coach sees that in the game statistics and can watch the 10 second video clip of each missed tackle when that stat is clicked. Mike spends about 70 hours a week analyzing players. No wonder the technical aspects of the All Blacks are so perfect.

We finally bid farewell and now back at the hotel it’s time to relax and recount the days activities. Tomorrow is a trip to the hot springs in Hanmer Springs to sooth the damaged bodies. It’s a tough life.

posted April 12 2009

Day 6

This was a lazy day to meander up to Hanmer Springs and enjoy the sulphur laden hot pools. We take over a chalet style accommodation called Greenacres and I can hear a few readers already humming the theme song from the 60’s TV show. There is a common green area which is surrounded by the chalets and that is immediately appropriated for an impromptu game of buggers. There’s not much happening today except watching rugby at the pub and soaking in the 41 degree pools. The night ends with guitars and even though no one seems to know all the words to any song, our improvisation improves with every round.

Day 7

We start the bus at 7:30am to get to the ferry on time. A scenic drive through miles of vineyards and sheep pastures sees us arrive just in time for the ferry departure. A couple of the more astute tourists, including the editor, find the executive lounge where for $40 NZ ($30 CAN) you can eat and drink yourself silly. And drink in this case, unlike the BC Ferries, includes wine and beer. A little known fact is that a rugby old boy can eat twice his weight and drink three times his weight in a four hour crossing. I guess from a NZ Ferries perspective, you win some, you lose some.

We say goodbye to the south island and arrive in Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand. We have 5 games over the next couple of weeks including tomorrow’s game against a Wellington team at the polo ground. Alec Hawke who used to play for the Ebb Tide and now lives in Auckland meets us at the hotel and he’s brought his boots. There’s an Irish Pub called the Black Harp near the hotel and we find a few of the tourists loitering there, it’s an early night for most with game day tomorrow but we see a couple of the ‘cowboys’ on tour fade into the city darkness complete with their well worn stetsons and boots. Some interesting stories no doubt to hear in the morning, but not for these pages, as the adage “what goes on tour, stays on tour” is paramount.

posted April 13 2009

Day 8

Well this was a memorable day in Ebb Tide history, our first win in NZ. We played an over 40 team called the Eastern Magpies which is fed by 4 or 5 clubs from Wellington much like the Ebb Tide are fed from the three Victoria clubs. One of the feeder clubs is the Oriental Rongotai club, nicknamed the Ories, and that’s where the hosting took place. They have a nice clubhouse adorned with jerseys and photos of club players that went on to play for the All Blacks, Silver Ferns and junior rep teams. The club seems about 90% Maori, their hosting was fantastic and the hospitality a world beyond our experience in Christchurch.

In terms of the game we prevailed 4 tries to 3 with the Magpies pushing at the end. It was a big lift for the tour group knowing we can compete with teams our own age over here. Actually most of our team is over 50 with only four players in their 40s. A style of play is starting to emerge that suits our environment and skills. The NZ teams have the skills and pace to spin it wide and attack on the outside, our style is to maintain possession and bring it back to the inside where we use our rucking skills to keep the ball and string phases together. It seems to have some success when we can maintain the rhythm. A good example of Canadian toughness was exemplified by Rick “the commander” Williams, Jeff and Morgan Williams’ dad. He dislocated a finger during the game and came racing over to the sideline, “can someone snap this back in place” he urged. Bob Love a retired police sergeant and our team medic snapped it back in place and Rick was back in making tackles minutes later. It’s that type of on-field leadership which energizes a team, Rick won man of the match honours.

The post game was the real highlight with boisterous singing in the old tradition. Upon our departure we ended with a rendition of O Canada that would have put any welsh choir to shame and they immediately answered back with the Haka. We departed the bus to handshakes, hugs and Maori nose rubs. There was a lot of respect and goodwill after the game and the team felt proud of their efforts as Canadian rugby ambassadors.

Talking of Canadian rugby ambassadors, Phil Smith was in attendance at the game. He lives just minutes from the Ories clubhouse and they know him well as one of the local referees. Even though he didn’t referee our game the Ories presented him with a “Thanks Ref” T-Shirt recognizing his efforts on the local scene. Phil is rising through the ranks of NZ refereeing and should be refereeing NPC Level 2 this year which means we might see him running touch in NPC Level 1 matches on TV. He teaches Math and PE at one of the local private schools and is getting married next year. Even though he won’t be returning to BC in the near future, I know the BC rugby community wishes him well in his NZ career. I had an interesting discussion with Phil on the differences between the BC Premier and NZ club rugby and one point we agreed on was the higher level of contest at the breakdown in NZ rugby. I still remember the Oxford-Bays game in the fall where counter-rucking was one area the visitors were dominant. It’s certainly a topic where coaches and referees have to come to agreement in BC on how the game will be improved and consistently called. But that’s another subject for a later article.

Kia Ora from NZ.

posted April 16 2009

Day 9

Nothing too special about today in rugby terms, a free day in Wellington which is a pleasant city nestled in the hills. A trip up the cable car to one of the surrounding hills gives an expansive view and then a walk down through the botanical gardens is enjoyable. Since I’m writing this on day 12, day 9 is sort of a fuzzy memory.

Day 10

We leave Wellington and drive to Napier today. On the way we stop at the Tui Brewery which is a good segue into an evaluation of NZ beer. Everyone will have a different opinion and I haven’t tried them all but I would rate our local BC micro-brewed beers above anything I’ve tasted on tour. The main beers here seem to be Speight’s and Tui, perhaps the equivalent of Molsons and Labatts in Canada, except they’re more of a pale ale, actually the most popular brand of Speight’s is “Gold Medal Ale” brewed using lager yeast and lagering techniques.

Day 11

This is game day against the Napier Old Boy Marist club. Now Marist has nothing to do with Maori but is linked to the Catholic Mary and there are Marist organizations throughout New Zealand, someone described it as a Catholic version of the Legion but I suspect the old boys would be graduates of the private catholic school system. They had a good team, it was more of an over 35 team and I heard one of their players tell the other “some of them are old enough to be your granddad”. Maybe if we had Lunk in the front row, Robson at loose forward, Graf at #10 and Colin McKenzie at #8 we might of had a chance. We lost 5 tries to nothing. We experienced some “old style” rucking with balls mysteriously disappearing from the bottom of rucks and people getting turned over in contact. Some of their players had recently competed at the provincial level and the skill level showed. They were the best team we’ve faced so far. Since it was Thursday evening the hosting wasn’t spectacular as most had to go to work the next day. It was a hard game and we have another one tomorrow… an early night.

Day 12

We move from Napier to Rotorua today. From the Maori perspective, this is the center of New Zealand, it’s a magical place with steam coming out of the ground at every turn. You can place your hand over the cracks in the earth and feel the heat escaping. There is a major geo-thermal power plant in the area that captures the escaping heat from the earth’s core and converts it to electricity, very impressive. It feels like the centre of New Zealand. Before the game we’re taken to the Whakarewarewa Marae which is the spiritual place of the Maori, the elders come and greet us and from 100 feet away start their greeting/challenge. You could imagine hundreds of years ago if you showed up with 40 men, the locals would want to know what your intentions are. It very much had that feel. We had a Maori representative who replied in their language, I assume to say we came in peace and with good intentions. We then were invited into their building which had a feel of a rustic church where each group had representatives who spoke on behalf of the group to tell who they were. We ended up singing O Canada for them to tell them who we were in song. One of their speakers explained he wouldn’t be playing today as he was to old to give a punch or take it. The ceremony ended up with Maori nose touches and it was game on, off we went to the Whakarewarewa rugby club. They played a true over 40 team and I admire the Maori for their honesty in this respect. We won 6 tries to nothing, we were faster and fitter (I know that’s hard to imagine) and our tackling has been improving every game as we’re starting to meet the ball carrier in numbers instead of one on one. They were big boys and our bodies are hurting after two consecutive days of playing rugby. Tomorrow we’re going to watch their Premier team play their rival, another Maori club, it will be full on action and I’ll be making a comparison to our BC Premier league. Before that most of us will take in some massage therapy at the natural, mineral rich, hot springs to hopefully repair our damaged bodies.

posted April 20 2009

Day 13 – Prem game in Rotorua

This was a relaxing day where some of us wandered down from the hotel to the Polynesian Spa in the morning. The sulphuric smell reminds us of the natural hot springs in the area. This is one area you must visit if coming to New Zealand. There are seven hot pools of various sizes and temperatures and one swimming pool. After four games so far most of us are wearing purple tattoos across our body, new ones added each game, badges of honour on a rugby tour of hard hits made or taken. The bus picks us up at 1:30pm to take in a local Premier derby between two rival Maori clubs who are undefeated this season, one of them is our host the Whakarewarewa club, unfortunately for them the home team prevails on the day.

Throughout the game I was trying to make comparisons to our local Premier competition in BC. The facilities were similar, the crowd size similar, and it was a deal at only $2 NZ to get in. The drinks at the bar are ridiculously cheap at $2.50 NZ. As for skills and level of play, I would say their strategic kicking skills are vastly superior. In BC Prem you may have one person per team who can kick to a high level, like Jeff Williams for the Bays or John Graf for CW. In this game the entire backline could kick with proficiency. Something certainly for coaches from High School to Club to work on. The game resembled more a 7s game played with 15 players as there seemed little separation between forward and back play, it was side to side frenetic action with little if any forward pick and go. I would say most of our Prem forward packs would do well in the short game, outmuscling the opposition but the danger would be in the wide game. So who would win between say, the Bays, and one of these teams from today? It depends how well the BC Prem team controlled the game in the forwards and minimized turnovers, once it went wide the defence would have to be smothering and fast. The big difference in their identification of talent is there are several levels between Prem club and National team. There is a divisional play where say Rotorua would play Napier, then the NPC level where both would play for Hawkes Bay, then the Super 14 level where their team would be Waikato. So lots of levels for selectors to evaluate players.

It’s interesting when I mention Kieran Crowley is the coach of Canada, they all know him here, their first question is “what type of people does he have around him”? An indication they surmise a coach’s success is limited by the structure he works within, I go into my story of iRB money, Pacific Pride cancellation, and bureaucracy. A few talk knowingly about the NZ team that used to travel to Canada to play the Pacific Pride, and they give their impression of the Canada U20 team that recently played here.

Day 14 – Trip to Auckland to Orakei Marae

We head to Auckland today and we’re spending the night at the Orakei Marae. Alec Hawke meets us at the Marae and we are extended family while here. We go through the greeting ceremony which is similar to the one we experienced in Rotorua. We sit opposite the elders and are greeted in speech and song, we tell our story as well of who we are and how we got here. There are mattresses spread on the floor around the perimeter of this ornately decorated structure with a floor space about the size of a hockey rink topped by a high cathedral style ceiling. We are surrounded by intricately carved wall reliefs that represent the spirits of the ancestors, some of them peaceful, some of them frozen in haka-like screams. Each no doubt a complex story. The spirits must have been pleased with our visit since most of us were snoring within minutes of becoming horizontal. The sound of thunder rolling across the top of the Marae in the middle of the night was actually the echo of synchronized snoring from 40 tired souls. We were well fed and hosted at the Orakie Marae and I know I speak for all the tourists when I offer our heartfelt appreciation.

Day 15 – Game Day versus Teachers Eastern

The Teachers Eastern rugby club is just down the hill from the Marae. Their history is similar to the Castaway Wanderers, they are an amalgamation of two clubs, the Eastern club and the Teachers, and as such there is always the sensitivity on behalf of the older members if you forget to say one part of the title. Since the game is at 3pm on a Monday afternoon, the call has gone out to the local clubs to put together an over 40 team. Three clubs have sent numbers so by the end of the game they have about 30 people and we’re seeing new faces as the game goes on. The match ends in a 2-2 draw for tries and it’s probably the worst performance we put in as a team so far. We went ahead 2-0 and then they clawed their way back in helped by numerous handling errors on our part. A game that was there for the taking but in the spirit of the hosting a tie was a satisfactory result. The current Auckland Rugby Union CEO and former All-Black, Andy Dalton, came out to give a postgame speech and welcome us, he indicated he was smart enough now to show up 10 minutes late for the start of the game so he wouldn’t have to lace up the boots. Wherever we go we welcome our opponents to visit BC and enjoy our hospitality, hopefully some will take us up on the offer. Our record now on this tour is 2-2-1 with one game against the Navy on Thursday to end the tour, for now it’s 2 days rest.

posted April 20 2009

Day 16 – Postgame in Parnell

Not much news in rugby terms, we have one game left and some people are using this day to sightsee during the day and relax during the evening. We get notice that we are written up in the Hawkes Bay Today newspaper after our game with Napier (which we lost 5-0), the article goes as follows:

The Ebb Tide rugby team travelled a long way to get bruised and battered – all the way to Napier.

The Canadian golden oldies rugby team have spent the last two days in Napier as part of their six-match tour around New Zealand.

The team hail from Napier’s sister city, Victoria, in Canada, and for the majority of the 34 players it is their first time to New Zealand.

“Everybody just loves it,” said player Shane Muldrew.

“You don’t want to compare but it’s hard not to compare this country with our home province.”

Yesterday the team visited the council and checked out the Art Deco architecture before pulling on the boots for a match against Napier Old Boys’ Marist at Park Island last night.

Although our local boys showed their talent with a 6-0 win, Mr Muldrew said the game was played in good spirit.

“It was a tough game and it was a good game,” he said.

“It was good, hard rugby.”

The players, who range from 45 to 70 years of age, are rugby veterans who trained twice a week back home in the lead-up to the tour.

“We took it (training) more seriously,” said Mr Muldrew. “Rugby is part of the fabric of New Zealand, we knew we were coming to a country where rugby is king.”

Before their Napier game, the side played in Christchurch and Wellington and are yet to face teams from Rotorua, Auckland and the Navy old boys team, the “Royal New Zealand Water Rats”.

So far, despite a couple of minor injuries, all the bodies seemed to be holding up on tour.

“Everybody’s doing pretty good,” said Mr Muldrew.

“Not bad for a bunch of old guys.”

Most games are played in golden-oldies style, with either 15-minute quarters or 20-minute thirds.

Aside from rugby, the team are taking part in a variety of activities, including joining the Anzac parade march with the Takapuna RSA on April 25.

Mr Muldrew said all the players had enjoyed their New Zealand experience.

“It’s been superb. I just can’t say enough about how wonderful this country is.”

Day 17 – Trip to Paihia

It’s back on the bus again for a four hour ride to the north of the north island, a popular recreational destination called Paihia. I didn’t see much of the town as my foot started swelling up and was looking like a lobster claw. In the back of my mind was the story of Pat Dunkley contracting the flesh-eating disease after a rugby game in Samoa in 2000. I took a taxi to the local medical clinic and was told if it was any worse they would put me in the hospital but the antibiotics and antiseptic cream seem to be doing the job (knock on wood). Our medic Bob Love is doing a good job putting iodine on all scratches and abrasions right after the game. I made the mistake of ignoring what I thought was a harmless abrasion.

Day 18 – Back to North Auckland and Navy

We made the four hour trip back to Auckland today and played the Navy Old Boys team (water rats) at 4pm. We’re done in terms of rugby and it showed on the field, add to that the best team we’ve faced so far and it was a mismatch. The Navy team play in a local league and are an over 35 team, they were very fit, very skilled and very hard. I lost count of the score. In retrospect this was the only game that was a mismatch but was a dream come true for one of our members who served for many years in the New Zealand navy and he was properly roasted in the postgame ceremonies. That’s it for games, a 2-3-1 record, not too shabby for a tour to New Zealand. We’ve learned a lot and met a lot of wonderful people. Our last highlights before returning on Sunday is marching in the ANZAC parade on Saturday (equivalent to our Nov 11 Remembrance Day) and taking in the Super 14 game between the Auckland Blues and Queensland Reds.

Posted in Other News.