December 1 1937


December 1 1937




The All-Western All-Star rugby team was selected for Maclean’s by the following committee of the Western Canada Rugby Football Union:

A. M. Naismith, Calgary, president, W. C. R. F. U Dr. Walter Sturdy, Vancouver, first vice-president, W. C. R. F. U.; F. C. Wilson, Regina, second vice-president, W. C. R. F. U.; A. E. Tomlinson, Saskatoon, past president, W. C. R. F. U.; Stan Pepler, Winnipeg, immediate past president, W. C. R. F. U. In addition, Ralph Allen, Dave Dryburgh, Ralph Wilson and Harold Straight, sports editors respectively of the Winnipeg Tribune, Regina Star, Calgary Herald, and Vancouver Star, were consulted; while George Mackintosh and Ken McConnell of the Edmonton Journal gave valuable assistance. The findings thus arrived at are presented by W. G. Hardy, of Edmonton.

RUGBY HAS been very much in the spotlight in the West this season. First and foremost ranks the ^ performance of the Big Three of the Western Conference—the Calgary Bronks, Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Regina Rough Riders. After playing through a regular schedule of eight games each, these teams have finished in the order named.

It might be noted that, although last year's Western champions, the Rough Riders, won only three games, yet they scored 57 points against their opponents’ 47; while the Bronks, finishing on top of the heap, had 70 points scored against them while they were scoring 47. It has to be admitted that Regina’s last two consecutive victories against Calgary and Winnipeg were won by the scores of 26-1 and 12-1 respectively, after the position of the Bombers and the Bronks in the play-off was already assured.

Yet the above statistics, along with other reports, seem to give weight to the view that the three teams are fairly evenly matched and that the Riders were a little late in rounding into their best form. In any case, the games between the three rivals have provided the consistently best matches which the West has seen in years.

The Western Conference, of course, even if it takes the

spotlight, is only part of the picture. To say nothing of the host of junior and high-school games and leagues, out at the Coast the Big Four—Knights of Columbus, Meralomas, North Vancouver and the University of British Columbia have had the best season in years. On the prairies, the Northwestern League, composed of The Edmonton Athletic Club and the Universities of Alberta and Saskatchewan, have played through an interesting schedule; while the three universities mentioned above have participated in Western Intercollegiate fixtures.

Western Conference Leads

WJ 1EN IT COMES to a selection of a Western all-star rugby team, however, it seems clear that, as was the case last season, the rugby in the Western Conference is in a class by itself. In the other leagues there are indeed stars of varying magnitude. In the Coast Big Four, for instance, Ed Kendel, halfback of the Knights of Columbus; Frank Hindie, middle wing of North Vancouver; Joe Ross, the big halfback of Meralomas; Johnny Goranko, inside wing for the same club; Ap Roberts, halfback of the University of British Columbia; and Ed Spooner, middle wing for the Knights of Columbus, deserve honorable mention. So. too, do Weaver, halfback, and McKinnon, end. of the University of Saskatchewan; Pete Rule, halfback, and Wes Hendricks, centre, of the University of Alberta; and Hal Sutton, halfback of the Edmonton Athletic Club.

Ed Kendel, for example, is a triple-threat player; Frank 1 lindle is reckoned as Vancouver’s finest linesman; and Joe Ross, punter and passer, is having his fourth good year with the Meralomas. Similarly, Weaver has been a great ground gainer for the University of Saskatchewan; Ap Roberts has shown some line broken-field running; Sutton lias been a stand-out for Edmonton Athletic Club; and Pete Rule has been a plunger extraordinary for the University of Alberta.

But the rugbv in the other leagues does not appear to rate with the rugby in the Big Three. This is quite clear so far as the Northwestern League is concerned. In an

Position Team Height Weight I Ilanson Halfback Winnipeg Blue Bombers 5' 8" 155 lbs. 2 Pierce Halfback Regina Rough Riders 5' 9" 165 lbs. 3 Stevenson Halfback Winnipeg Blue Bombers 6' 0" 178 lbs. 4 Fritz Quarterback Winnipeg Blue Bombers 6' 0" 195 lbs. 5. Rorvig Flying Wing Calgary Bronks 6' 0" 210 lbs. 6 Griffing Snap Regina Rough Riders 6' 0" 210 lbs. 7 Mogul Inside Wing Winnipeg Blue Bombers 6' 3~~'2" 220 lbs. 8 Searight Inside Wing Calgary Bronks 6' 1" 195 lbs. 9 Gainor Middle Wing Winnipeg Blue Bombers 5' 11" 187 lbs. 10 Hurd Middle Wing Calgary Bronks 6' 1" 200 lbs. 11 Nicklin Outside Wing Winnipeg Blue Bombers 6' /2" 193 lbs. 12 Haynes Outside Wing Calgary Bronks 6' 0" 175 lbs. exhibition game at the beginning of the season, the E.A.C.’s were thrown for a loss by the Calgary Bronks to the extent of a 60-0 score.

To compare the calibre of the rugby at the Coast is somewhat more difficult, since their winning team did not compete against the Rough Riders last season and, at the moment of writing, it seems highly improbable that there will be a play-off between the Coast and the Prairies this fall. However, the U. B. C. has competed against the U. of A. and the U. of S., while the E. A. C. has done the same. All these teams appear to play about the same calibre of rugby; and the U. R. C. participates in the Coast League. On the basis of these considerations, it appears to be logical for the Selection Committee to limit its pick to players from the Western Conference—and this is what it has done.

Hanson Still Supreme

THE TASK of selecting an all-star team is always an onerous and difficult one. The Selection Committee— to whom Maclean’s thanks are due—finally went to work on the basis of picking out the best team available to play against a similarly chosen Eastern all-star team. In the back field, the stars were particularly luminous. Had Olsen of Calgary, for instance, not suffered a broken leg in the last game his team played against Winnipeg in the regular schedule, he would have been an almost certain selection, since his punting and plunging have been outstanding. In any other year, too, the spectacular work ol Joe Turner of the Bronks would have earned him a place. This player, only twenty years of age and the product of a Calgary high school, has turned in a remarkable performance in receiving passes and particularly in his running. Jim Lander, of the Rough Riders, also deserves honorable mention for his punting and passing, and has proved himself a capable quarter as well. On the Winnipeg team, Greg Rabat has turned in a highly useful season.

Good as these men are, however, they are, with the exception of Olsen, shaded for a well-balanced backneld by Hanson, Pierce and Stevenson. Of these, Fritz Hanson, the “golden ghost” from North Dakota, needs no introduction to Eastern fans. It was his phenomenal running which, more than any other single event, brought the Grey Cup to the West two years ago. Held back by injuries last season, he has returned to form in a blaze of glory this fall. For instance, in the September 13 game against Calgary, he made a forty-eight-yard dash for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. In the September 25 game against Regina, the third quarter saw a sixty-vard dash by him. These are only two instances of his spectacular ability; and he can throw passes as well. As one sports writer remarked, “Any words of mine would be superfluous.” He is, in the opinion of many, the greatest running halfback in Canadian rugby today.

If we place Hanson at right half, we should give him as his running mate Ralph Pierce of the Rough Riders. Like Hanson, Pierce is from North Dakota and, like him, was on Maclean’s 1935 All-Stars. This season, playing with a team which started off badly, and behind a line which in the early stages was inclined to be wobbly. Pierce has given a superlative exhibition of broken-field running and pass receiving. In the October 25 game against Calgary, for example, he took a thirty-three-yard pass from Lander. A little later he took another pass from Lander, and ran forty yards before Searight brought him down on Calgary’s one-yard line.

Pierce can punt as well as run. but for the punting halfback, the committee selects Art Stevenson of Winnipeg. This player came from Hastings College in Nebraska this fall to enter medicine at the University of Manitoba. Last year the All-American Coaches’ Board, working in conjunction with Stanley Woodward,

chairman of the Football Writers’ Association, picked him as the All-American quarterback. A triple threat in the backfield—we read, for instance, that in the October 18 game against Calgary, he took a “long pass from Hanson and ran fifty yards for the first touchdown”—his punting is his outstanding feature. Outkicking stars such as Lander and Olsen, he has given Winnipeg the best brand of booting which it has had.

Along with these men, to complete the backfield, the committee has chosen Bob Fritz at quarter and Ed Rorvig at flying wing. Rorvig, a big and powerful player, has been perhaps the best plunging halfback in the Big Three. In addition, he has uncovered a pretty brand of broken-field running, and is a good kicker from placement as well as a fine secondary defense man. Once again, this star is a product of North Dakota, which seems to go in for the exporting of rugby players in a big w'ay.

Of Bob Fritz, it only needs to be said that this is the third successive season in which this Concordia College star has been picked as quarterback for Maclean's Western All-Stars. He is close to Rorvig as a plunger, is a fine secondary defense man, and his passing has been extraordinarily successful this year. In the October 18 game, w'e read, “Rabat took a lightning pass from Fritz and was dowmed on Bronks’ eight, and Fritz whipped another pass to Roseborough, who crossed the line.” Fritz is also the coach of the Winnipeg club.

A Difficult Task

THE MEMBERS of the committees were unanimous in their choice of the backfield, which they feel is second to none in Canada. The question of the line— the less spectacular but equally important part of a rugby team -gave them more trouble. So far as middles were concerned, they had no difficulty. Here Martin Gainor. who comes from North Dakota, and Howard Hurd, an importation from Gonzaga College, Spokane, got every vote. They are big, excellent defensively, and even more excellent when it comes to offensive work. Both are pulverizing players, splendid tacklers, good blockers, adepts at owning holes in the opposing line, and pass-receivers as well.

When it came to outside wings, the committee had three names before it 1 Jaynes of Calgary, and Marquardt and Nicklin of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. All three have been outstanding this season in their speed, tackling and reception of passes, and in their general alertness. It seems difficult to leave off Marquardt who was picked for both the 1935 and 1936 Maclean’s Western All-Stars and who amply justified his selection in the game against Hamilton in 1935.

On the other hand, both Nicklin and Haynes seem to be at least on a par with him this season; and both of them are Canadians, although Haynes, who was born at Stavely, Alberta, learned his rugby at Washington State University. Both, too, have been outstanding in their passreceiving and in their tackling. They get the nod for this season.

For snap, the committee had a close choice between Dean Griffing of Regina and Jerry Searight of Calgary. On the second vote and after consultation with referees and sports writers, it is felt that Griffing shades Searight. At his best—and in the last few games Griffing had rounded into shape the committee feels that this player, who came from Kansas State University and was on Maclean’s All-Star Western team last year, has no equal as centre in Western Canada. A fine defensive player, he is equally aggressive on offense; and he is, in addition, the coach of the Regina team.

It was felt, however, that Searight’s work could not be overlooked. Besides being excellent defensively, he is also, without doubt, one of the most aggressive players in the West, a player who is on his toes every minute of every game.

When the committee came to the choice of inside wings, they found themselves in difficulty. With the exception of Lou Mogul, there were few players who had played inside consistently during the season. Walker of Regina, for instance, has played middle all season. Hale of Calgary has been on the sub list for part of the season. Peschel of Winnipeg has shown excellent work, but is really a middle. “Slush” Harris of Winnipeg and originally from Toronto also deserves honorable mention, along with Garuik of Regina and the other players to whom reference has already been made. But it was felt that, with the exception of Mogul, Searight, if shifted to inside, would shade any of these players. For these reasons, then. Mogul, a homebrew Winnipeg player who was on Maclean's All-Stars as inside in 1935, and | in 1936 as a middle, but who has been ! playing chiefly at inside this year, is | selected for one of the positions. For the ; other, Searight is nominated.

Space will not allow more than a brief | reference to the coaching. This has been | good throughout, but particular reference | should be made to the work of the one| time Notre Dame star, Carl Cronin. His success with the Bronks this year is well deserved, and he should rate as the West’s j I premier coach.

This is the team selected this year for | j Maclean’s Western All-Stars. It is felt that it is at least equal, and perhaps superior, i to the two previous all-star teams. It is not known at the moment of writing whether or not there will be a Dominion final game this year. It seems a pity that there should not be one -and it is worth noting that A. M. Naismith, the capable president of the W.C.R.F.U., has suggestions for intersectional games between East and West for next year which would take care of the difficulties caused at present by the long schedule in the East and the weather discrepancies. But whether there is a Dominion final this year or not, the committee is willing to go on record that this team which they have selected would give any team from the I East, all-star or not, more than a run for j its money.