Recently Vintage Sport and Leisure hosted its 8th World Vintage Rugby Carnival in Ottawa, Ontario. The Rugby Carnival is held every 2 years and has been previously hosted in Limerick, Buenos Aires, Christchurch, Cape Town, Hawaii, Perth and most recently Queenstown. With Canada celebrating its sesquicentennial Ottawa was a fitting choice to host the event. The week long event saw teams travel to Ottawa from Australia, New Zealand, the Bahamas, the US, as well as teams from Ontario and BC.
One of the teams attending was a newly formed Old Boys side consisting of players from Toronto Rugby Union clubs. In the beginning this team, which started as an amalgamation between the Oshawa Vikings (Runes) and the Cobourg Saxons Old Boys (SOBs), was being assembled solely for the Vintage Carnival in Ottawa. Recognizing that neither of the two clubs could provide enough players to attend the event on their own, the decision was made to amalgamate for the Vintage Carnival. As the group began planning for the event they soon realized that this team could be a great vehicle for future old boys rugby tours. The notion of a touring old boys team made up of rugby players from a variety of rugby clubs was the impetus behind the concept of the Southern Ontario Mercenaries Old Boys.
The Mercenaries arrived in Ottawa as one of the younger teams in the Carnival. It took the group a while to adjust to the new laws however, once adjusted the Mercenaries fully embraced the experience. After each match the Mercs were sure to welcome each team with some good old-fashioned Canadian hospitality. During these socials the boys took the time to share stories with some well-travelled rugby players from around the world. On match days, prior to departing Twin Elms, the Mercenaries held Kangaroo Court sessions in the bar area of the clubhouse. News of these lively sessions quickly spread and each court attracted more and more spectators from visiting clubs. By the end of the week long affair the Mercenaries had made many friends both on and off the pitch. Still it came as a surprise to the group at the Finale Awards Dinner & Dance when the Mercenaries were awarded the ‘Team of the Carnival’ – an award voted on by the organizers and the participating teams.
With the success of this event, the Mercenaries are eager to welcome new members and begin planning for future rugby adventures. There has been a recent growth in old boys rugby among TRU Clubs with Oshawa, Lindsay and Barrie all adding Over-35 men’s teams in the past few years. The addition of a recent Facebook page with the aim of better organizing Old Boys Rugby in Southern Ontario should also help to increase the growth of the sport in this age bracket (click here). Rugby tours are something many of us old boys look back on with fond memories. However, with work and family challenges, it is often difficult for clubs to assemble enough old boys players to tour. The Mercenaries look to provide an opportunity for like-minded players to assemble to play in a variety of rugby festivals and tournaments.
If you have an interest in travelling with the Southern Ontario Mercenaries please contact Tek Ang firstname.lastname@example.org or Mike McMahon email@example.com . You can also check out the Mercs Facebook page here. We are currently planning for Saranac Lake Can-Am Tournament 2018.