St. George’s Rugby President Never Blindsided

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Jeffrey Reed, Editor, LondonOntarioSports.com

The sport of rugby, like any sport, includes just as many political scrums as it does scrums on the pitch. But London St. George’s Rugby Football Club president Margaret Dow welcomes battles on and off the field.

Dow, 33, is a 17-year rugby veteran and one of only a handful of female rugby club presidents in Canada. She’s up for a third term as president at the London St. George’s annual general meeting in March, when the growth of the club will surely prompt much discussion.

With about 250 active players from under-8 Mini to Old Boys leagues, London St. George’s is experiencing positive growth under Dow. Competing in the Niagara Rugby Union, the men will field three teams instead of two, and the women will grow from one to two competitive teams in 2017.

Traditionally, rugby players have first entered the game during high school, but the Mini program launched in 2015 is exponentially growing the game in London.

Margaret Dow

“The Mini program has just exploded. We started with a handful of kids, and had more than 100 last year. We expect it to grow this year, too,” Dow said. But, she said there’s still work to do in order to win over the parents.

“The kids aren’t the problem. It’s more the parents that show resistance towards it,” Dow explained. “We exhibited at a (trade show) recently. The kids were really excited about it, but as soon as the parents found out that it was rugby, they shied away from it.

“Safety is a very big concern,” Dow added. “Parents sometimes think there are 5- and 6-year-olds running around breaking their necks. That’s not true, obviously. Tackling starts with the 14-16 age group. And tackling is properly taught at practices. Nobody is put into a game who is not prepared to go in. Safety is our utmost concern.”

Fighting adversity is nothing new to Dow, who heads a local sports club dominated by men. She’s not afraid to rough it up on the pitch – she once tore her shoulder to threads – and she welcomes a challenge in the board room, too.

“I would definitely say that to my face, I have been well accepted. But to be completely frank, you’re a female heading a male-centric organization. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t met with some resistance on things,” Dow said. “I don’t look at that as a bad thing, though. I don’t have all the answers, and not a lot of good comes from yes-men. I need input.”

Dow said she has “dealt with a few issues that male presidents wouldn’t have to deal with. But at the end of the day, I just have to use that to my advantage. I don’t have any illusions or delusions about turning the London St. George’s Rugby Football Club into a feminist organization.”

Rugby Ontario says it has about 10,200 players and a total member base of 11,000 (including coaches, officials and volunteers) at 63 member clubs, while Rugby Canada counts 125 clubs from coast to coast. And according to Dow, they’re all part of a family.

“The rugby community is really that – a community. It’s not the type of sport where you just show up to play, and then not talk to anybody for the rest of the week. We’re there for each other. It’s a great support system, and a really cool social community, too,” Dow said.

With Canada winning bronze in women’s rugby sevens at the Rio Olympic Games, the sport got a big boost. Those Canadian women recently beat the U.S. squad to capture the World Rugby Sydney 7s Cup. Dow, who has competed in several women’s sevens tournaments around the globe, said both of those events will help grow the game locally.

“We have the kids coming out to play Minis, and the parents out playing touch,” Dow said. “It’s important for me as president to make sure everyone is welcome. You’ll have people who have your back, and you’ll make lasting friendships.”

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office http://www.JeffreyReedReporting.com established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and https://londonontariogolf.com.

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