Doug Sturrock has written about Canadian rugby in “It’s a Try! The History of Rugby in Canada.” (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Former teacher Doug Sturrock pours a half-century into book on Canadian rugby

Doug Sturrock’s history of Canadian rugby is a labour of love, a half-century in the making.

It started in 1967 with research for a master’s thesis at the University of Alberta — at the suggestion of the late Max Howell, a former Australian rugby international who spent time teaching and coaching in North America. Sturrock completed the project in 1971 but kept delving into the sport’s history when he was asked to be Rugby Canada’s honorary historian in 1972.

After retiring from teaching in 1998, he co-wrote a history of the Meraloma club in Vancouver. That got the research juices flowing again.

While Sturrock had the support of several Rugby Canada executives, he said the organization ultimately did not help with helping get the book out.

So a group of rugby friends raised some $40,000 to finance a book, which resulted in “It’s a Try! The History of Rugby in Canada.” The tome, which weighs in at more than 1,000 pages, came out in 2017 and is now in its second edition.

In researching the thesis, Sturrock spent hours going through microfilm and almost a month travelling from Edmonton to Halifax, interviewing people and visiting libraries.

He hit the road again years later, visiting Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, Fredericton and Halifax over four summers for more research. He started writing the book in 2001.

“The travelling, research, I really enjoyed it,” said Sturrock, an 82-year-old native of Vancouver who now makes his home in nearby Fort Langley. “It probably took a little longer than I originally anticipated. Because I was reading microfilm and looking for rugby, but it’s easy to get sidetracked — if you’re looking on a sports page — on a hockey game or baseball game or some other sporting event, maybe horse racing, that you’re interested in.”

His books covers the beginning of rugby in Canada, with British military and immigrants believed to have brought the game across the Atlantic. It runs through 2011, capturing the upheaval in Rugby Canada as the sport turned professional.

“As we have marched towards the new professional age, others in the top 12 of world rugby have been sprinting,” Keith Wilkinson, former director of national senior men’s teams, said at the time in a comment that remains true today.

The book also serves as an exhaustive record of teams coming to Canada and Canadian sides touring abroad, with pages of photos and scores.

Sturrock, a former scrum half and wing, played rugby at the University of British Columbia before serving as a high school coach for 39 years. He taught at four schools, ending his teaching career at Vancouver’s Magee Secondary School.

Just Posted

Eight dogs found in Innisfail hotel room were kept in cages

Eight dogs, kept in cages in a small hotel room in Innisfail… Continue reading

Severe thunderstorm watch for Central Alberta

Thunderstorm watch covers large area including Sylvan Lake to Stettler

Bird on a wire causes electrical problems in Red Deer

City workers put protective covers on line

WATCH: Kayakers go over Ram Falls south of Nordegg

Two take 30-metre plunge, post video of thrill ride

Count shows slight decrease in Red Deer’s homeless

In two years, the number of homeless in Red Deer has decreased… Continue reading

WATCH: Cirque ZUMA ZUMA puts on a show at Westerner Days

ZUMA ZUMA performs three times a day during Westerner Days

Divers hunt for 4 after Missouri duck boat sinks, killing 13

BRANSON, Mo. — Divers are searching Friday for four people still missing… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer’s noxious weeds are a goat’s dietary delight

Piper Creek Community Garden gets chemical-free weed control

‘Amazing Race Canada’ competitors face B.C. challenge

They drove Corvettes, mastered falconry basics, and ate blueberry pie in the Cowichan Valley

From hot to not? The Baloney Meter weighs in on Scheer’s economy claims

OTTAWA — “Justin Trudeau inherited a booming economy, but he’s squandering it.… Continue reading

Scathing suicide inquiry finds gaps, shortcomings at Royal Military College

OTTAWA — Members of a board of inquiry into three suicides at… Continue reading

Premiers strike deal to allow increased flow of beer, alcohol across borders

ST. ANDREWS, N.B. — Canada’s premiers are set to wrap up their… Continue reading

Trump ready to hit all Chinese imports with tariffs

President Donald Trump has indicated that he’s willing to hit every product… Continue reading

Canada’s annual inflation rises 2.5% thanks to boost from higher energy prices

OTTAWA — The country’s annual inflation rate rose 2.5 per cent in… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month