Mini-Rugby Updates – April 2024

50th Anniversary of Mini-Rugby – Event Scheduled for May 10th at Gordon Head Middle School

A reader sent in a story from the CW website, posted below. It mentions the 50th anniversary of mini-rugby this year with a shout out to Mick Eckardt. We took a deeper dive into the Daily Colonist archive and came up with some interesting news clippings about Mick, rugby in that era and mini-rugby.

First of all the CW article mentions (1972-2024) but we’re thinking it’s perhaps a typo as 50 years would be 1974-2024 and our research indicates 1974 was when the term mini-rugby first appeared in the newspaper. In our search of “mini rugby” it first shows up in the Victoria news archives on October 1974 as an ad, a “mini rugby exhibition” before the Tonga vs B.C. President’s XV match at Royal Athletic Park (see news clippings appended). Another article from November 1974 indicates the elementary schools “mini-rugby” tournament final would be at MacDonald Park.

Well done to Mick, the VIRU clubs and sponsors for commemorating 50 years of mini-rugby.

from CW Rugby website

Today is an opportunity to announce a landmark achievement! Upcoming, on May 10th is a celebration of fifty years of mini rugby in GVSD #61 schools, (1972 – 2024.) The program has catered for Victoria girls and boys, being a co-gender initiative for some thirty years! The program is primarily the responsibility of Mick Eckardt, a man who has been tireless for these fifty years. Mick is a former NSMT player. Between 1974 to 1978, he represented Canada on five occasions.

In the early days he coached and headed the program at five Elementary Schools at the same time, coordinating rules, running clinics, seeking support for coaches and sponsor teachers, and organizing schedules. At the Annual Jamboree there have been as many as fifty teams participating. Teams have come from Sooke, Duncan and Vancouver to play in the Jamboree. It is fair to estimate that it has had direct or indirect influence on over 15,000 boys and girls over the past fifty years.

The program has been a leader in innovation as the game of rugby has evolved and the need for enhanced safety has become expected. This Jamboree was the first in the B.C. rugby world to introduce weight limits to ensure safety and unique methods to develop confidence in contact. As mentioned, gender equity was introduced, and one of the latest innovations has been the introduction of a concussion protocol. The program has recruited sponsorships, with Victoria clubs being generous, and this ensures each player takes home a T shirt at day’s end. Currently, the program is seeking to add female referees to blow the whistle at this year’s Jamboree. This event will be held at Gordon Head Middle School, commencing at 9:30 a.m.

It is a program that has been supported by many organizations, including all of the member clubs of the VIRU,

In all, news that is deserving of being spread to the rugby community and beyond.

Newspaper Clippings – Daily Colonist

News clippings of Mick Eckardt from 1968-72 as UVic Vikes and Crimson Tide prop

It was interesting to read some of the names from that era when “mini-rugby” began. I see Jono, Gary Johnston, playing centres for the Vikes but also as loose forward. He went on to become head coach of Canada. Jim Wenman at fullback, I remember playing with him on the Ebb Tide, same with Bruce McFarlane. Gudmund Gudmenseth, an icon at Cowichan, just recently turned 79. I’m sure some readers will be familiar with many more of the names.

Posted in Front Page, Youth Rugby.

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