Stories From Our Past :The Saskatchewan Roughriders

07/08/13


Categories: Stories From Our Past

Stories From Our Past :The Saskatchewan Roughriders

On September 6 1910, an ad ran in the Regina Leader asking sporting young men to attend a meeting at City Hall for the purpose of forming a rugby team. The ad was met with an enthusiastic response, and through that inauspicious start the “Regina Rugby Team” (now known as the “Saskatchewan Roughriders”) was formed. Local residents were already familiar with the British game of rugby, having been introduced to it in the 1880s by North West Mounted Police officers stationed at the barracks. This was the case throughout the western provinces, and soon there was a push towards developing an inter-provincial league so that teams could compete on a larger scale. In 1910 the Regina Rugby Team became one of the members of the newly formed “Western Canadian Rugby Union”.

In the early years, team members did not receive money to play so practices were scheduled to take place at 5:30 every weeknight, allowing the team members time to finish their workday. The team would meet at either Dominion Park (prior to 1917), or Exhibition Park for practices. Though the team did not initially meet with much success on the field, by 1912, they had hit their stride, winning 5 straight WCRU championships between 1912 and 1919 (with the exception of 1917 and 1918, when play was stopped due to World War I). The team quickly gained popularity among locals, and ever larger crowds gathered at the park to cheer their home team on to victory.

Modern fans of the “green and white” may be surprised to know that the team colors have changed four times over the years. In 1910, uniforms were purple and gold, and in 1911 they were changed to blue and white. In 1912 the colors became red and black, remaining unchanged until 1947. In 1948 one of the Rough Rider executives found a surplus of green and white team uniforms at a fantastic price, and thus, the team colors Canadians know so well were borne out of purely pecuniary interests.

Team uniforms weren’t the only thing to change over the years. In 1924, the team changed its name from the “Regina Rugby Team” to the “Regina Roughriders”, finally changing in 1946 to the “Saskatchewan Roughriders”. In 1927, the city merged two parks to create a football field (known as Park DeYoung), on the site of today’s Mosaic stadium. In 1936 the team began playing Canadian football instead of rugby, and in 1947 the park was renamed “Taylor Field” in honor of Neil J. “Piffles” Taylor (1893-1946). Taylor was one of the team’s most famous early players, known for his humor and athletic ability. Today, the field still bears his name, and has been a destination for Regina football fans for over half a century. So this summer, when you are enjoying the game, take a moment to think about our home team’s humble beginnings and historic past.

Written by: Shana Hay, Reference Assistant at the Regina Public Library
Photo credit: Saskatchewan Archives Board RA27624-42

Sources:
Beug, Lorne;Campbell,Anne and Jeannie Mah. Regina's Secret Spaces : Love and Lore of Local Geography. Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center, 2006.
Kelly, Graham. Green Grit: the Story of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Toronto: Harper Collins, c2001.
Nasewich, Rod E. The Rider Book of Lists : 100 Lists Honoring 100 Years of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.Regina: Nasewich & S. Green, 2010.
Saskatchewan Roughriders 1910-1980 : Club Record and Information Book. Regina : Saskatchewan Roughriders, 1980.


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