A long-time rugby tournament held in honour of former Sacred Heart student Allison “Doogie” Dugas has come to an end.
Retired Sacred Heart Crusaders coach Bill King organized the “Doogie Cup” every spring in Walkerton since Dugas’ 2006 death in a car accident – the same year Sacred Heart played host to the OFSAA championships.
King kept the tournament running five years after his own retirement.
He said on Wednesday it was time for him to move on. So far, no one else has volunteered to fill the role of organizer.
Last year 15 schools participated in the rugby tournament for junior and senior girls teams.
As was tradition, no scores were kept and no converts attempted. The day on the gridiron was simply a tribute to Dugas – a passionate rugby standout – and an opportunity to enjoy the fundamentals of the sport.
King never intended for the tournament to run as a fundraiser. Players were only charged the cost of the tournament’s official T-shirt, and officials often volunteered their time.
Those T-shirts were a highlight of the day featuring different slogans each spring. One year the shirts read “a woman’s place is in the maul” and another year “we break tackles, not nails”.
Even when the tournament hosted over 20 teams, King never budged on the issue of keeping the one-day competition a “wholesale” operation.
“Nobody’s going to make money on this, it’s meant as a celebration of Doogie,” King told the Sun Times in 2010.
Teams often utilized the Doogie Cup as a way for new players to dip their toes into rugby’s churning water before the official start of the high school season.
Junior players were able to learn the game against same-age and same-skill competition.
Over the years teams came from Sarnia, Oakville, London, Orangeville and beyond to take on Sacred Heart and local Bluewater Athletic Association teams.
BAA senior girls rugby convener Darcy Werger said he hopes a spring tournament will return to the area. He noted problems with early spring field availability, and a lack of local high school teams will make it difficult in the short-term.
This year the BAA senior girls rugby league will play with only four teams, the senior boys will field three clubs, and the junior boys will run a season with only two squads.
The upstart Owen Sound Rugby Club aims to increase the local player pool by making orientation-level rugby available to local youth athletes. The Club will begin practicing in May and offers teams for children ages seven to 15.
According to a 2006 Sun Times story Dugas was en route to the OFSAA banquet when the car driven by her boyfriend was struck by a transport truck on Highway 6 at the Edges Side Road just north of Durham.
Her second-ranked Crusaders team thought about pulling out of the provincial tournament before deciding to compete in their quarterfinal game in honour of their friend and teammate. Sacred Heart finished fourth at OFSAA that year.
King announced plans for the first-annual Doogie Cup immediately following the Crusaders’ semifinal defeat.