There’s a common phrase in rugby circles that goes something like, “Give blood, play rugby.”
No word on how much blood will be donated to the turf for the Surrey Beavers rugby game this Saturday. What we do know is that the club will be partaking in a weekend of giving back to the community.
On Oct. 14, the Beavers will host their sixth annual Ruck for the Cure, an event that raises money for the Canadian Cancer Society.
“Everybody in some way has been affected by cancer in their life,” said Beavers vice-president Paul Kelly. “This is our way of giving back to the community.”
The Ruck for the Cure idea came from the idea that everyone has been affected by cancer. Active club member Nick Bruce brought it up to the Beavers brass six years ago. Since then, they’ve put on this annual cancer fundraising event.
The event hit close to home in the past year when current Beavers player Andrew McIntyre was diagnosed with testicular cancer. After going for treatment late last year, McIntyre was deemed cancer-free.
Over the last five years, the club has raised more than $85,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society.
One of the biggest draws for the event is the specialized jerseys that get auctioned off after the game at the Beavers clubhouse in Cloverdale. The Beavers create unique pink jerseys every year with sponsorship from local organizations.
“We had one sponsor in our first year,” said Kelly. “Now, local businesses have all jumped on board. They love the idea.”
During the first Ruck for the Cure, the first jersey that was auctioned off went for $1,500.
“People might think, oh, it’s just a rugby jersey, but we’ve had jerseys in the past go for $2,500 to $3,000.”
Aside from jersey auctions, the club also raises money by auctioning off other club apparel and goods such as hockey tickets. There is also a link on their website to make donations.
Canadian Cancer Society volunteers will also be at the game on Saturday afternoon at Sullivan Heights Park, to take donations.
“We’ve gotten pretty good at putting on a class event,” said Kelly. “For our rugby club, it’s circled on our calendars.”
The Beavers weekend of giving doesn’t end with Ruck for the Cure. On Sunday, 40 players from the club will visit Canadian Blood Services Blood Donor Clinic in Guilford.
Canadian Blood Services representatives will also be on-hand at Ruck for the Cure on Saturday, to see if people are willing to become stem cell donors.
According to Sarah Jasmin from Canadian Blood Services, members of the Surrey Beavers are the ideal donors.
“These young males are setting a great example,” Jasmin said. “We hope other people between the ages of 17 and 35 can step up as well, they are the best people that could be signing up as stem cell donors.
Jasmin said that both Surrey Memorial and Peace Arch Hospital needed 11,000 units of blood last year. The clinic in Guilford was able to supply them with 9,960 units.
Blood donation has stayed stagnant for some time, and they are currently struggling to meet the needs of local hospitals.
Kelly hopes that the Beavers involvement with Canadian Blood Services will spur involvement from around the province.
“We’re challenging every other rugby club in B.C. to see who can donate the most blood,” Kelly said.
Action on Saturday kicks off at 10 a.m. with the Div. 2 women’s game against Langley RC. The Div. 1 men’s game between the Beavers and Abbotsford RFC gets underway at 2:30 p.m.