THE GLORY DAYS
We all know that plenty can happen in the span of a year. A year can be mixed with memories so great they’ll be engraved in your mind with no chance of being forgotten, and memories so terrible your heart quakes with the slightest reminder of them. Both these memories however, make up every person you meet. Both these memories make up the Saint John Irish RFC. 2019 marks 25 years of our club, so there are plenty of great and terrible memories to be shared. So let us briefly sum up the past 25 years now.
In the days of 1994, Rob Olkier, Shane Nesbitt and Gary Woods embarked on a mission to create their own rugby club. In their first few years of operation, they were called the Vikings and only fielded men’s teams. With a new club in Saint John, excitement quickly grew which allowed them to field three sides.
To intrigue new members and show boldness on this new adventure, Rob and Shane came up with the idea to play 7’s on Mispec beach. As the tide went out, the beach would be filled with tackles and whistles; they would truly be playing on the ocean floor. To our knowledge, this was the first ever beach rugby tournament in North America.
2001 was a year of change. A change that still impacts our club today. This was the year where the women came out to play. Along with a new women’s team in Saint John, the Vikings changed their name to the Canadians.
Stephen Goddard came to the club in 2003 with the intention to make the club extraordinary. He brought a no nonsense approach to practice which allowed the Canadians to produce 152 points in 6 games with their expansive back style and fit pack. Steve’s dedication to the team was not only a key factor in our successful season, but in a successful club in years to come.
As the years progressed, more memories were made. In 2008, the name changed from the Canadians to the name we know now as the Irish. The women's team began to slowly grow through the years, but the men’s team was lacking numbers. 2013 marked the beginning of not having a men’s team. Stephen Goddard took on the role of coaching the women’s team up until 2018, where he decided to take a year off to focus on family.
This brings us to 2019. Becky Knox is the head coach of the senior women’s team and Katie Hunter is chairwoman and the U18 Lasses team (girls) coach. The Irish has a Rookie Rugby Program run by Chelsea Ferris. The focus this year for the club is to grow our Rookie Rugby Program and find ways to possibly start up another men’s team.
The Saint John Irish RFC has memories that are great and strong, but also memories that seem more like nightmares. It is the nightmares however mixed with dreams of a better and stronger future, that make us, the Irish, who we are.