The opening page in the Penticton Harlequins 1980 scrapbook reads. “I count myself in nothing else so happy as in a soul remembering my good friends” – William Shakespeare.
The Scrapbook was put together by founding member Warren Thomas for our first president, Dr. Myles Dunstan-Adams. Along with Bevan Eathorne, Al Forsey, Erland Hindson, Huia Martin, Ro Hindson, and Philip Motchman, they formed our first executive, to manage a mens team based on a then graduated Pen-High squad.
October 19th, 1980, a day that will last in infamy, the team travels to Vernon to play at Kalamalka Junior High. Vernon trying to promote the sport in their area, arrange for Shaw cable to videotape the game, the team decides that this is the day we will gel together and win for the first time as a team, beating Vernon 17-12, tries scored by Rob Brydon, Rick Morgan and Huia Martin.
Back in the day we played in a league known as the Okanagan Mainline Rugby Union, including teams from Merritt, Revelstoke, Trail, Vernon, Kamloops and Kelowna. The league formed a representative team which played a few exhibition games against lower mainland Rep teams and one game of notoriety against touring team Bath R.F.C. of England when they were fresh off winning the John Player Cup trophy. The game was played in Penticton, was fast paced, bloody, and one hell of a learning experience for all of our players surely. A lasting memory of facing one of the worlds top club sides. We did not manage to win.
Whilst we played at first simply as Penticton RFC, our captain, Jim Alway, suggested our name should be ‘Harlequins’ after we had decided on the reverse quarters scheme on our new jerseys. One day at a later date, the core of the team was enjoying some suds while opening mail and we discovered several invitations to tournaments in the southern states, London and Hawaii all from other Harlequins clubs. Our captain of the day, Rob Brydon, noted “we’re World Famous” …….it says that on our jerseys now.
In the late ‘80s early ‘90s some Kootenay boys came up with what seemed like a great idea whilst looking at a small map, the Inland International Rugby Union, teams included Vernon, Penticton, Trail, Cranbrook, Spokane Washington, University of Idaho and Kalispell Montana. Can you say road trip? As the league evolved we played most of our league games at each others tournaments, as Vernon to Kalispell is a 14 hour drive.
We have made two trips to the BCRU finals, the first held at Velox in Victoria and the second with incredible hosts Campbell River. Whilst we faired much better in Victoria, both tournaments were a great exposure for the players that stepped onto the field.
Annually we make a pilgrimage to the Abbotsford Gobbler Tournament, We have won this tourney once a long time ago, finished second on several occasions third and forth regularly including a third in 2007.
In 1990, Ken Sommerfeldt, (little Hitler), overhears a conversation about a piece of property at Wade and Rigsby streets in Penticton, this moment in time would land us our Club-House which is a cultural experience in itself, although it is slated for development in the near future, it continues to serve us well.
In 1995 Penticton hosts the BC summer games, we are able to procure some legacy funding and our members volunteer to remove old jumping pits and other hazards inside the running track. The legacy money is used to buy steel to construct Rugby posts, the welding was done by School district #67, City crews dug the holes and provided restraints, we acquired a crane, Steve Lloyd was the brains of the operation, the painting was done by club members, the only glitch was Marty Godsmark not understanding how steel pipe is measured. In the end we have possibly the thickest Rugby posts in the world, they stand 35’ above the ground, extend 10’ into the ground and are encased in 6’ of concrete. Our seamstress Bob made custom pads for them.
In the fall of 2004 a contingent of 24 traveled to Waikiki, Hawaii to attend the Hawaii Harlequins 40th Anniversary tournament, we played Hawaii, Western Samoan Warriors, University of Hawaii, who hosted us with a feast in the park, and Port Alberni Black Sheep, Matthew and Jenn Evans tied the knot on the Rugby pitch at Kapiolani park. Tiki’s and Duke’s love us. We survived Sandy Beach, played rugby in the sand at Kailua.
Our Junior program most recently visited England and Wales with a contingent of 25, they are currently training and fund-raising for a trip to Argentina in 2009.
Each year we host the “Pa’kit” high school tournament at spring break, we have hosted as many as 48 junior and senior boys and girls rugby teams, in June, we host the “Sun-Fest” featuring mens, ladies and old boys divisions, dates for all of our events can be found in our schedule, we end our season with the inter-squad game known as Canada vs The Rest of the World in late October.
Who we are, is part of a constant evolution, what we are, is a great bunch of team-mates and friends who get together, to play possibly the best sport in the world. And share life experiences, at the time that this is being written, January 2008, we have team members who play on the men’s team, from 15 to 65 years old. Come and visit us, you will like our Club and our beautiful resort City.
On behalf of the Executive and all the members,
World Famous Penticton Harlequins Rugby Club