HISTORY OF THE SARACENS 1968-FOREVER

 

The Saracens Rugby Football Club, has a long history. Rugby was played in Manitoba since the 1880's, but halted during each of the two World Wars, revived from 1949 to 1955, then going into hibernation until a gradual renewal in the early 1960s. (The Winnipeg Blue Bombers, were initally the Winnipeg Rugby Football Club, both over time the name rugby was changed as the game itself changed.)

 

In the 1960s the game gradually revived with initial clubs being established including the Wasps, Wanderers, River Heights and University of Winnipeg. There were so few people playing that it was difficult to field an entire team. It was not uncommon for a team to play shorthanded. (One recently converted soccer player, got used to this, and, when the club finally fielded a full 15 remarked, "I think that sort of spoils it; don't you!") So few people played the game that it was like a secert brotherhood with odd rituals, songs and sayings. Some of that continues to this day. Chance encounters with opponents on the street were considered cause for major celebrations and repairing to some dark place to develop conspiracies.

In 1967 Peter Press, Ken Adams, Howie Goss, and Gerry Nufer, involved with both River Heights Rugby Club and the University of Winnipeg joined forces to initiate the Saracens Rugby Football Club for the 1968 season. Whether it was a plan or not the club developed a double pronged strategy of developing Canadian born players while recruiting anyone with a British, Australian or 

 

New Zealand accent upon their arrival in town. This best of both worlds proved successful as 1968 was the first of a long string of Manitoba Championships for the Saracens that lasted for over 20 years. The Saracens RFC has won 17 Mens Provincial Championships, and 1 Womens Provincial Championship.

 

During the early times, training sessions and games were scattered all over town. Practices at the infamous Canada Packers Field in St. Boniface involved stomping through a fetid, mosquito filled swamp, and at least one end of the pitch was uphill, possibly both. The Lipsett Hall Field was another solid surface for games, with newly arrived recruits complaining that they hadn't come all this way to play in concrete. Down the road Hubeck Park was softer, but was occasionally used by equstrians leaving large horseshoe sized divots and other hazards to be avoided.

 

 

Players were so few, that absence from a game or practice was a major offense. With our kicker missing, and his replacement repeatedly unsuccessful, the Captain then growled "if you score a try you have to kick your own bloody convert!"

 

Rugby and the Saracens gradually grew in popularity due to their unique nature and ability to attract to interesting characters. Every two to three years the sport would be "rediscovered" by newspaper sports writers and featured on the front page of the sports section, usually entitled; "What are these men doing?" (A question often asked in other circumstances as weel.) The sport was well on it's way to, if not respectability, at least growth.

Saracen success continued with a great rivalry with the Assassins, many of whom from the same parts of town. The Saracens Club was both fun and successful enough to begin fielding two teams frequently winning both First and Second Division Championships. SNAFU was initiated in 1970, and proved so successful that we tried it again the following year. SNAFU continues to be the premier rugby tournament and party in Western Canada.

With the passing of the 70's an Old Boys side evolved, winning div 2 in 1980 and travelling to the World Golden Oldies in Toronto in 1989. The 1980s, the club continued winning and growing with a new crop of Saracens. Talented players from St. John's High School program became a core of strength as the team ran up a series of consecutive championships from 1979 to 1986. (That team has been enshrined in the Rugby Manitoba hall of fame.) 

 

In 2004 three Saracens Men, Colin Fraser, Iian Ashcroft, and Matthew Flamond who all 

played colts and some Div2, and Premiership just graduated High School and just finnished their first full summer with the club wanted to give back. All three being graduates of Silver Heights wanted to coach, however the Silver Heights boys had a great coaching staff of Gary MacDonlad, Rob Gillespie, Colin & Trevor Botkin, and Micah Chartrand, so they decided to take on coaching the girls team. They continued that program until 2009 when Silver Heights shut down. In 2011 a core group of players, Patricia Fraser, Steph & Claire Harland, & Chelsey Rodriguiez, from those Silver Heights Girls teams approached their former coach Colin Fraser then VP of the Saracens about adding a womens team to the club. President Dave Wilson was excited to add a major part to our club and the Saracens Rugby Football Club had a Womens team to kick-off the 2012 season. In 2013 the Saracens their first Womens Provincial Championship.

 

The Saracens now a complete club with Men, Women and Youth playing the greatest game on earth remain Manitoba's greatest club!

 

        SARACENS PROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

 

                              MENS PREMIER

           1968, 1969, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975,                      1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984,                      1985, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1992

                           

                           WOMENS PREMIER

                                       2013

                           

                          MENS 2ND DIVISION

        1969, 1970, 1980, 1982, 1987, 2013, 2015

 

                                                                           CLUB PRESIDENTS

 

HOWIE GOSS 1968,69 - KEN ADAMS 1970 - GERRY NUFER 1971,72,73 - BARRY TILDSLEY 1974 - 

NIGEL CORSER 1975,76 - RAY SKETT 1977,78 - LENNY GIACOMIN 1979 - DARREL NOWASAD 1980 -

LOU FURLAN 1980 - GARY MACDONALD 1981 - DOUG HARRISON 1982 - DERRY NEWTON 1984 -

LARRY MARCHAK 1984,85,86 - GEORGE MCDOUGALL 1987 - JEFF HARRISON 1988,1989 - 

RICK ROMSA 1990,91,92 - WILLY MARCHAK 1993,95,96,97,98,99,00,03,04,05,06,07,08

LOU FURLAN 1994 - AL BROLLY 2001,02 - DAVE WILSON 2009,10,11,12,13 - 

COLIN FRASER 2014,15,16,17,18

 

   THE ART LOGAN HEART OF A SARACEN AWARD

 

Art Logan joined the Saracens a year after the team’s inception and was involved right up until the time of his death in 2013. Over the years he became one of “the elder statesmen”. He was a player as well as a tireless worker who gave feely of his time for the team. It didn’t matter if he was keeping the books, running the financial end of Snafu, attending meetings of Maple Grove or Rugby Manitoba as a team representative, or taking on any number of jobs for the Saracens he always did it with a huge smile on his face saying ,”We have the technology”. Art was not the best athlete on the field. Nor was he the guy who scored the most tries. What he did was give his all both on and off the field for his beloved Saracens, and did it with heart. So each year a Saracen who best exhibits these characteristics is awarded the Art Logan Heart of The Saracens Award.

                                AWARD WINNERS

              Art Logan 2003 – Dave Malcolm 2004 –

          Sean Manby 2005 – Slawek Cofnas 2006 –

      Gary Macdonald 2007 – Willy Marchak 2008 –

   Zbig Jablonowski 2009 – Gary Macdonald 2010 –

          Willy Marchak 2011 – Jerome Peters 2012 –

                Colin Fraser 2013 – Colin Fraser 2014 -

                  Dave Wilson 2015 - Rick Romsa 2016

Christian Taylor 2017