Rugby When It Was Silly
Date: November 30, 2017
Before there was the Canada Sevens, where the players are athletes and the fans wear costumes, there was the Dai Dobbs Touch Rugby Sevens, where the players wore costumes and many famous fans announced they would not be showing up. No rugby tournament in the world could compare to Kelowna's own Dai Dobbs Touch Sevens.
Dai Dobbs was a six stone standoff for his school's fourth fifteen. He sported a fragile frame, as demonstrated when he fell on a meatloaf in the cafeteria and split open his spleen. When playing Slag School, a 17 stone prop named Bruce broke free from a ruck and set his sights on Dai. Will the Groundskeeper said the sound that was heard when Bruce ran into Dai was not unlike the sound of a speeding locomotive striking a bunny. Dai snapped. He picked up the ball and ran away while writing on the ball the rules for a new form of rugby more to his liking. Touch rugby was born.
The first-ever Dai Dobbs Seven-a-Side Touch Rugby Classic was played in the fall of 1988. 21 teams of all ages and genders took the field, featuring such creative names as Gingerbread Men, Farming Babes, Young and Ugly, and Vague Memories. The two finalists were chosen by the clandestine 'Committee of Public Safety', based not on win/loss record but rather on 'color' and 'character'. The One Race Mongrels reached the final, because they had brought a 'couch' and an 'assistant couch' to the field, they bribed the referees with cookies, and their costumes were difficult to categorize. They were defeated by the other finalist - Clan McDobbs, whose players dressed in kilts, and were accompanied by an impressive team of highland dancing cheerleaders.
A few of the rules for the Dai Dobbs tournament caught the eye of the local media. They included:
- No player named Bruce was allowed in the tournament. A later amendment to this rule allowed Bruces to play, only under the name of Karl (with a K). This was true even for a man named Graham Bruce (a.k.a. Graham Karl.)
- Tie games were resolved by trivia at centre field. The questions were rumored to be sent from Dai himself. It was noticed that the questions all had something to do with a lack of height.
- Referees could penalize a team for boring play.
The People Who Did Not Come
It became tradition in the five year of the tournament to announce the, "fairly famous people who may not show up again this year." Here are just a few of the stars who failed to attend the Dobbs.
- A famous Toronto pitcher named 'Juan Guzman' because his twin brother 'Two Guzman' was uninterested.
- Donald Trump because we would not name our extravaganza, 'The Donald Trump Sevens'.
- The President of Sri Lanka, who would have come but was kicked out of the Commonwealth.
- Bart Simpson because he was two-dimensional.
The Dobbs was always followed by a social. In most years, it was held at the Four Seasons Racquet Club. There was a room we rented where Dakoda's Pub is now located. The money raised from the tournament and the social went directly to support the U19 Okanagan Boys team. In every year, more than $1,000 was raised.
That old tournament involved hundreds of local players from every aspect of our rugby community - elementary schools, high schools, the College, the Crows, the Over-40's, and even people who were no longer involved in rugby. They were great, great days for rugby.