Rugby in their golden years

Many of the rugby players who took to the field at the Parkinson Rec Centre Saturday have been playing the sport for more than 50 years. Some more than 60.

A ceremony honouring some of Kelowna's Priest Valley Vicars more "age-affected" players was held in advance of their over 40 game against the Victoria Ebb Tide.

“They're the living embodiment of what Mark Twain once said,” Vicars president Ryan Holly, dressed in a robe, said during the ceremony. “Age is a case of mind over matter, if you don't mind, it don't matter.”

Holly then presented 72-year-old Peter “Rocky” Rochfort and 70-year-old Kasper Walraven their gold shorts, for those over 70, and 62-year-old Buck Klassen his red shorts, for those 60 and over.

The colours of the shorts prevents serious contact against the older players.

“It depends on what intensity you want to play the game at,” said Walraven.

While the notoriously rough sport may be hard on the body, the players say their love of the sport and the camaraderie with their teammates are what keep them coming back.

“I haven't been playing for a while because of injury, but some of my great old buddies are involved today so I wanted to share the day and finally get my red shorts,” said Klassen.

“With ol' boys rugby, there's just so many of these long rugby friendships that just go for years and years. You were adversaries when you played mens rugby and now you're more or less buddies when you're older, so it's terrific.”

“I'm just going to go out and have a run with the boys and hopefully come out in one piece,” said Rochfort, who began playing the sport when he was eight.

When asked what advice he'd give to younger players looking to have as long a career as him, Rochfort was quick to say: “Dodge tackles.”

The Vicars play about 20 games in a season against teams primarily from the Lower Mainland.

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