After 29 years the Ensign Cup rugby match is all square between the under 30 and over 30 members of the Kelowna Crows.
And it continues to honour injured Crows player Rusty Ensign and raise money for the local rugby community.
The under 30 crew won its third straight Ensign Cup last weekend, running over the over-30s with a 31-5 win in the game played at City Park. The overall results now sit at 13 wins apiece and three draws over the 29 year history of the game.
But more than the final score, the friendly game continues to be a tribute to Ensign, who was injured in a Crows game in 1983, losing the use of his legs when he broke his neck during a tackle.
Three weeks later the first Ensign Cup was held and the tradition continues to this day, making it one of the longest annual events in Kelowna.
“It’s nostalgic,” said Ensign. “It’s gone into another generation of guys. It’s gotten to the point where almost nobody my age is young enough to play. To me it’s an honour that they still carry the game on and value it. We raise money and it always goes to a good cause.”
This year $975 was raised and it will go to the Kelowna Crows Under 19 and Under 17 rugby sides to help them offset travel costs.
While Ensign has seen the generations change over the years there are still some players around from his era.
At 50-years-old George Curran played in his 28th Ensign Cup and was a former teammate of Ensigns. Will Loudoun, 49, was also a former competitor in Ensign’s day and used to play for Burnaby.
Last weekend’s game also saw it return to City Park where fans were able to watch and enjoy it. Between 200 and 300 fans checked out the match over its duration.
Next year the Ensign Cup may see some changes.
After the Canadian championship rugby game in August drew 800 fans to the Apple Bowl, Ensign says he hopes the Canadian program will return to Kelowna next year. if it does he thinks the Ensign Cup would be a perfect lead in match to a possible Canadian championship game.
If not it could also return to its traditional time of the year and be held in June.
Wherever and whenever it’s held, you know Rusty Ensign will be there and you know the Kelowna Crows will be back to honour their former teammate.
“The game has definitely got longevity,” said Ensign. “It’s a good time and for a good cause.”