PER CONATUS AD VICTORIAM – VICTORY THROUGH ENDEAVOUR
The History of the St. Albert Rugby Football Club
By Gareth Jones
Rugby was first introduced in St. Albert at Sir Alexander Mackenzie Elementary School in 1961-62 by Welshman Myrddin Jones. At this time, it was an internal program at the school and when Myrddin moved away the program ceased.
The game was resurrected in St. Albert, upon the request of Roger Scott, a physical education teacher. He made a request for help to start a rugby team at Paul Kane High School in 1980. Gareth Jones and Rod Adams volunteered and offered their coaching expertise to help Roger. In their first season, Paul Kane reached the finals and lost to Salisbury, however, their rivalry continued for many years. Revenge was achieved in 1983 when Paul Kane defeated Salisbury in the closing minutes for the High School Championship.
At the start of the 1981 High School season, the Paul Kane team was asked to commit themselves to a longer program than usual. The Alberta Summer Games were on in Lethbridge and rugby was included. Paul Kane represented Zone 5 at these games.
At the end of the last game, a question was asked by Wes Ford, the team’s scrum half, “Is that it? Can’t we play some more games somewhere this season?” Hence on returning from the games, this squad continued to play exhibition games against Edmonton Rugby Union fourth division teams.
This started a ground swell movement during the fall of 1981 to start a Rugby Club in St. Albert. The historical night arrived, when after a number of meetings, the first official meeting took place at the St. Albert Legion. A slate of officers was elected on September 23, 1981. The Executive Committee consisted of Gareth Jones as President, Dr. Jim Bell as Vice President, Sam Hogg as Secretary, and Don Culbertson as Treasurer. The rest of the Board consisted of Roger Scott, Rod Adam and John Law.
It was decided during the winter that St. Albert would enter the third, fourth and junior leagues under the jurisdiction of the Edmonton Rugby Union. In 1982, their first season, St. Albert saw an increase in playing strength; although young and inexperienced, certainly this was more than overcome by their enthusiasm.
After a successful 1982 season a difficult decision was reached – that in 1983 the club would move up a division. At the time many doubts were expressed on whether this was the right thing to do or not, but in retrospect it turned out to be the right move. The club had a successful year; also the juniors won the Gold Medal at the Alberta Summer Games. In 1986, a similar difficult decision had to be reached – moving up into first division. Again the right decision was made – only three years later in 1989, St. Albert won the Edmonton Rugby Union 1st Division Championship.
On the administrative side, SARFC made a presentation to City Council for thirteen acres of land for playing fields and a clubhouse. They were successful in obtaining a twenty five year lease with the fields being levelled, top soiled and seeded in 1983 and were available for use in 1985. After obtaining a federal grant in 1983, the plans to start building a clubhouse were underway. The clubhouse officially opened in February 1985.
In 1985, St. Albert Catholic High School (SACHS) won the Boy’s City Championship with a number of players going on to play for SARFC.
SARFC came of age with reference to hosting International matches in 1989 when Australia, the current world champions, played the North American Wolverines. The latter being made up of players from both the Canadian and USA National Teams. Since that year, St. Albert has hosted National teams from England, Wales, Scotland, USA as well as hosting International Tournaments such as the Canada Cup and 2006 Women’s Rugby World Cup.