There’s nothing like returning to the rugby field for a game with some old friends after long time away.
On Saturday, the Red Deer Titans Rugby Club celebrated its 50th anniversary with multiple games on their field including the senior men’s and women’s teams but also a pair of games featuring Titans alumni.
While the Titans women’s alumna aka the ‘golden gals’ played a game of rugby between each other the ‘old boys’ consisting of Titans alumni and other rugby players from the area played a match against alumni from the Calgary Cobras rugby club.
Francois Bosman, who suited up for the game, explained it’s been 10 years since he played a game of rugby.
Originally from South Africa, he grew up playing the game but last played while living in Dubai but has stopped since he moved to Red Deer a decade ago.
“I started playing again at the age of 40, so I’m from South Africa and we played from age six. After a hiatus and then in Dubai, I started playing at 40. At about 41 I tore my ACL so I had to get knee surgery and my wife and boy never saw me play so I thought this was a great opportunity to show them the old man can still play at 54,” he said.
Bosman said in his advanced age, it’s easy to suffer an injury. But being back on the field for the first time he said it was like second instinct.
“When you get the ball you just do what you’re supposed to do so you never forget but you still think you’re 20 and the body is 50 so yeah it was a challenge,” Bosman said.
The game he said was incredibly rough and compared it to wrestling for 10 minutes straight.
“I forgot how hard it is and I run 10 kilometres on a regular basis but this is different. This is running, wrestling, chasing, stopping starting, so I was gassed I’m still tired,” he added.
Being able to play the game was a blessing and it was important for him to show his son he could still play as it was such a big part of his culture in South Africa.
After meeting his future wife in Dubai on a blind date, who was from Vancouver, they got married and moved to Red Deer from Vancouver together. It was his first time being in Canada and has been in the city ever since.
Erika Green, head coach of the senior women’s team and vice president of the Red Deer Titans Rugby Club said the 50th anniversary is a huge milestone for the club.
“We’re the only club in Alberta that has been around for 50 years. It just shows that we have a community that is invested in our legacy and are invested in our future and that’s I think something that’s really unique,” she said. “We’re the only club in central Alberta so that’s one thing that makes us pretty unique because everybody comes to us.”
To celebrate they held a golf tournament at the Innisfail Golf Club before hosting all the games on Saturday. On Saturday evening they held a banquet dinner and on Sunday a brunch to round out the weekend.
Green explained this season the senior men’s team is in a bit of a rebuild after the COVID-19 pandemic this year but is getting more players out. The senior women’s team she said has solid numbers this year with 32 registered players. So far, they’ve won three games and lost one.
“It’s great to see after COVID-19 everybody’s kind of coming back out. We actually have a lot of really new players this year which is exciting,” she said.
President of the club Dan Meikle said the response from the community on Saturday was awesome.
“We had a lot of people traveling back in obviously which is nice from out of town. Guys coming in from Ontario and Eastern Canada so It’s good to have all the people back. We’ve received a ton of support from local businesses and not-for-profit groups… Some of the Kinsmen groups donated money to make the day go ahead and yeah it’s awesome,” he said.
He added celebrating 50 years is a credit to the people who founded the club back in 1972 and set them up for success.
“All these years later the clubs continued to grow and thrive obviously like every other sport the last two years leading up to this were a challenge but we’re back on the ground now and got all our junior programs running and senior programs. It’s good to be back playing the game we all love.”