Richmond Review · Page 33
Friday, September 14, 2012
More artificial turf being floated Richmond Rugby Club says it and other sports groups are hampered by condition of sand field by Don Fennell Sports Editor Another artificial turf playing field is being floated for Richmond. This time, by the Richmond Rugby Club. “We are currently hampered by the fact our main field and practice area at King George Park is a sand field which can’t keep up with the demands we and the community at large put on it,” says longtime Richmond Rugby Club official Gary Stewart. While sporting three teams in the Fraser Valley Rugby Union men’s league as well as a second-year women’s side, the club is primarily a youth organization that features teams from under-14 to under-19. In addition, the club is efforting to further its development program having recently brought longtime Hugh McRoberts Strikers coach Joe Clemente aboard as junior co-ordinator. Many of the Richmond Rugby Club players are former or current Hugh McRoberts students. The Strikers have enjoyed considerable success during the past decade, consistently placing among the top high school teams at the provincial championships. Since being formed in 1957, the Richmond Rugby Club has proudly supported high school and junior rugby through volunteer coaching and financial support, says Stewart. He notes that
Richmond’s Ian Chan and Australia’s Ryley Batt battle for a loose ball during a wheelchair rugby competition at the Richmond Olympic Oval last year. They renewed acquaintances in the final last weekend at the London Paralympic Games. File photo
eight homegrown players have earned international caps for Canada, including former Dragon Jim Donaldson and current national team player Nathan Hirayama. He also confidently predicts a bright future for Richmond junior captain Harjun Gill, who is a member of Canada’s under-17 squad. Maintaining, and hopefully expanding its grassroots program is essential to the club’s very survival, says Stewart. “You can never depend on players from outside the community,” he says. “It’s difficult to maintain a standard or identity without having local players. The whole idea is to build a base at the bottom by looking attractive (successful) at the top. If we only had five kids graduate from our junior to senior program each year, in five years we’d have 25 players under the age of 23. That’s huge, and that’s how the most successful clubs do it.” Stewart also believes an artificial turf approved by the International Rugby Board would benefit local sport tourism. He envisions the opportunity to host many provincial, national or international events. However, such a field would have to feature a deeper depth of turf with a higher blade of grass than is traditionally used. “When walked upon it
File photo With three men’s teams and a women’s team (in action above), as well as an extensive number of junior sides, the Richmond Rugby Club maximizes the use of its home at King George Park. But longtime club official Gary Stewart says conditions at the sand field deteriorate with the weather and says an artificial turf would resolve that dilemma and perhaps even provide the club with opportunities to help boost sport tourism locally.
has a notable give to it,” says Stewart, who is confident the field—despite its uniqueness—can still be used by other sports such as soccer and perhaps even baseball. “We’d certainly welcome it, especially if it would help us extend our season,” says Rich-
mond City Baseball Association president Trevor Rennie. “Right now our (natural) fields last until Aug. 15 and there’s no chance of playing on them afterwards and not even really getting on them again until March at the earliest. This could potentially extend our
training or games by at least three months.” Richmond Sports Council chair Jim Lamond anticipates the population of Richmond to be at least 250,000 by 2020 and says the demand on facilities is also only going to increase. He believes another ar-
tificial turf would help address the needs of the sporting community, while perhaps also allowing some current playing fields to be converted into passive-use neighborhood parks. “We certainly need to look at it, but I think it’s important that any ar-
tificial turf be for multisport use,” he says. Richmond Coun. Bill McNulty says it makes “imminent sense” to add more artificial turfs, noting they allow for fulltime use and are more cost efficient in terms of maintaining than are natural playing fields.
Silver for wheelchair rugby team After scoring four goals to lead Canada to a 58-50 win over Belgium in the playoff quarterfinals, then adding a pair in a 50-49 semifinal win over rival United States on Saturday, Richmond’s Ian Chan and his teammates appeared out of gas in the wheelchair rugby gold medal match Sunday at the London Paralympics. Instead, it was the strong defensive play of Ryley Batt, generally considered the world’s best player that stood out, as Australia defeated Canada 66-51. Richmond’s Travis Murao also played for Canada, making his Paralympic debut. –by Don Fennell
September 14, 2012 edition of the Richmond Review