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In Memoriam: Giriard Ritchie Kirby

Date: January 31, 2011

Author: Barb Perry


In Memoriam: Giriard Ritchie Kirby

Giriard (Jurd…Giriard being too much of a mouthful for his siblings) was always a great sports and outdoors enthusiast.  The outdoors was his love, sports his vocation, promoting both at high school as PE and Biology teacher at Lake Cowichan High School.

During his years at UBC he played both football and rugby but rugby always his passion, to watch and to play.  He played second row for the Thunderbirds from 1946 to 1950 along with several other 2nd World War Vets.  This added some maturity and strength to the team, and with this added maturity, the Thunderbirds were able to win, over the next few years, the McKechnie Cup (six years in a row), the Millar Cup, the Tisdale Cup and the “World Cup”.  They were among UBC’s “Wonder Teams” and played against some great international teams, including the Australian Wallabies.

Jurd talked often of those years on the pitch, with his head “half way up the front rows’ arse”.  He would fondly recount many stories, including making Aussie Green Beer in the bathtub at Fort Camp (thanks to the Aussies for the “blinding” recipe… literally blinding) and “Bear”, the prop from UCLA, that they fed Aussie beer, planning to photograph him and pass the photos off as proof of Sasquatch, but he passed out and just looked like, well, a sleeping bear.

Proof of his love for all things rugby, Jurd chose half time, on the pitch at the fifty yard line in the old Thunderbird Stadium, to propose to Elsie, his wife of 60 plus years.  Two of Jurd’s and Elsie’s spawn continued the tradition on the pitch, both having played at rep level; Burt who began his long term rugby affair at Douglas College and continued to play there, even though he attended UBC, then to Nanaimo to play and where he now coaches; and Barbara who started with Douglas, went on to play for the UBC Old Girls, coached the first women’s team at the Capilanos and hung up her boots at the telling age of 29.

Jurd kept up with rugby through the “Rugby Channel” and the occasional trip to Vancouver for an International.  In his last innings he also met with “the boys” for lunch every few months, Jack Armour, Bill Dunbar, Bud Spiers, Eric Cardinal, Buzz Moore, to mention a few.  He thoroughly enjoyed these outings, talking the old game and critiquing the new until the numbers diminished to almost naught. 

After Jurd moved to Kelowna he missed seeing some of the rugby that he enjoyed at the coast.  As much or more, he missed the depth of rugby tradition present in Vancouver and would be best pleased to see the program CORE has set in motion to try to establish that type of tradition in the Okanagan.  He would give his nod to the level of commitment and organization of the CORE Executive and Members.  Here’s to the development of rugby in the Okanagan…Well done!

 

 
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