As usual, pride will be on the line when the 34th Ensign Cup kicks off Saturday afternoon in Kelowna.
The over 30s will take on the under 30s in the annual charity rugby match beginning at 2:30 p.m. at the Parkinson Rec Centre.
The old guys lead the all-time series 16 to 14 with three matches ending in ties.
The young guys will be out for redemption after losing last year’s match and failing to tie the series.
Led by the likes of Rick Schouten, Barak Pauls and Jeff Lohse—recently back from an exhibition in Hawaii with the Canada Wolverines—Rusty Ensign likes the under 30s chances of closing the gap back to within one.
“The young guys won three successive times and blew their chance last year to get even,” Ensign said. “I think the old guys will have their hands full this year.”
There will be a social after the game which will include a draw for an autographed Team Canada rugby ball.
Proceeds from player fees and public donations will be split between the Kelowna Rugby Club and Kelowna’s youth rugby program, headed up by George Curran.
The game is held each year in the name of Ensign, a former Kelowna Crows’ player who was seriously injured in a rugby match on May 22, 1982 in Edmonton.
Ensign is pleasantly surprised to see the game still being contested as well as the continued growth of rugby in Kelowna and Canada.
“It’s great to young kids learning and enjoying the game early, how to play the game the right, so it reduces their chances of being injured,” said Ensign. “There’s also a lot of potential with the success the bronze for the Canadian women’s team at the Olympics.
A lot of girls are playing it in the elementary schools now, which is great to see.”
As for the longevity and popularity of the charity event itself, Ensign couldn’t be happier.
“It’s nice to see people helping to keep this game alive,” he said. “It’s a chance for old friends to get together.
“I know this is the only game all year some of the old boys play, so it’s nice for them.”