BALMY BEACH RUGBY WELCOMES BACK HUNDREDS OF ALUMNI, SPECIAL GUESTS AS THE CLUB CELEBRATES 60 SUCCESSFUL YEARS
Nine members of Balmy Beach Rugby Football Club’s original 1955 team were present for the festivities, held at Toronto’s Balmy Beach Club on May 22.
(TORONTO, ON) – It was six decades ago that twenty teenagers banded together, bringing a mix of competitive spirit, raw talent, a desire to learn a new sport, and a never-back-down attitude to form Balmy Beach’s inaugural rugby side.
The rest, as they say, is history.
On the evening of May 22, more than 225 current club members, alumni, and special guests packed Toronto’s iconic Balmy Beach Club to celebrate the roots of the rugby club; where their successes all began.
At the core of the festivities, nine of the Beach’s “originals” were celebrated for their rugby pioneering, having laid down a solid foundation of rugby that hundreds of Balmy Beach club players would build upon.
“We were just bunch of kids fresh out of high school, and we knew very little about the sport,” recounted Beach original Ken Bingham, who was on-hand for the ceremonies. “We went into that first season not expecting to win a single game, but by the end of the 1955 season, we shocked the league by not losing once. We were a band of brothers, falling in love with a sport and a club that would become so important to all of us, for all our lives.”
Bingham and eight of his fellow originals were honoured throughout the night, regaled with colourful accounts of matches played long ago. The event was highlighted by the originals receiving official certificates of recognition and congratulations from both the Honourable Bal Gosal (Canadian Minister of Sport) and Matthew Kellway (Beaches-East York MP).
The evening was emceed by Beach original Joe Pineo, and numerous special guests were in attendance, including Rugby Canada CEO Graham Brown, Canadian Rugby World Cup veterans Gareth Rees, Al Charron, and the Beach’s own Kyle Nichols, as well as former Australian international Cameron Shepherd.
“Honouring our past is a very important part of our rugby club, and seeing so many alumni return to the Beach to celebrate our history is a testament to our fantastic culture,” said Balmy Beach president Haydn Gage. “That team from 1955 helped pave the way for so many future Beach players, and after sixty great years of Beach rugby, we can’t wait for the next sixty.”
The Toronto-based rugby club has been one of Ontario’s most successful rugby clubs throughout its 60-year history, both in terms of the number of championship titles won, and the volume of players it has produced for national teams.
Balmy Beach’s trophy case is anything but sparse: the club has earned 14 provincial cups (Carling / McCormick Cup) and eight top-flight league titles over its six-decade span. Their success on Ontario’s pitches has led to numerous international accolades for a host of individual players: more than twenty Beach athletes have represented Canada internationally, with young up-and-coming talents Liam Underwood and Lucas Rumball destined to become the next Beach tandem to cement long-term positions on the national side.
The club will cap off its 60th anniversary celebrations by hosting a full slate of matches at Birchmount Stadium on May 23, highlighted by a Marshall Premiership fixture between Balmy Beach and Oakville Crusaders, followed by a cross-border friendly between senior provincial men’s side Ontario Blues and American Rugby Premiership club New York Old Blue.
About Rugby Ontario:
Rugby Ontario is the provincial sports governing body responsible for the organization of rugby in Ontario. Our mission is to promote, govern, and develop rugby at all levels in a safe, affordable and enjoyable environment within the province of Ontario.
For more information, visit http://www.rugbyontario.com/