Rugby match to hon­our late coach

Pronghorns, Pan­das to play in­au­gu­ral Ric Sug­gitt Me­mo­rial game

Lethbridge Herald - - HERALD SPORTS - LETH­BRIDGE HER­ALD

Along-stand­ing Canada West women’s rugby ri­valry be­tween the Univer­sity of Leth­bridge Pronghorns and Al­berta Pan­das will take on a new mean­ing this week­end with the in­au­gu­ral Ric Sug­gitt Me­mo­rial game.

The first in­stal­ment of the me­mo­rial game will take place Saturday at the Univer­sity Com­mu­nity Sta­dium, with kick­off at for 2 p.m. The match-up will also be one of the Canada West Games of the Week on Canada West TV, and will be free for all view­ers at

This past sum­mer the sud­den pass­ing of Sug­gitt, the Pronghorn rugby head coach, rocked the Pronghorn fam­ily and rugby com­mu­nity. Af­fec­tion­ately known as “Sluggo”, Sug­gitt was pre­par­ing to start his third sea­son with the Horns. He was a larger-than-life fig­ure who has left a last­ing im­pact on both the Pronghorns and rugby com­mu­nity.

In ad­di­tion to coach­ing the Pronghorns, Sug­gitt had an im­pact on both schools’ head coaches, and be­ing orig­i­nally from Ed­mon­ton, touched many teams and play­ers in the Ed­mon­ton area.

The Pronghorns and Pan­das com­bined to win the first 16 Canada West Cham­pi­onships and nine CIAU/CIS Cham­pi­onships in to­tal. The Pan­das won the first seven Canada West Cham­pi­onships (1999 to 2005) fol­lowed by the next six be­ing claimed by the Pronghorns. The Pan­das also won the Canada West Cham­pi­onship in 2012 and 2013.

Neil Langevin was the first head coach in Pronghorn his­tory and led the pro­gram to three straight national ti­tles from 2007 to 2009 and six straight Canada West Cham­pi­onships (2006-11). He agreed to re­turn to the pro­gram this past fall.

“Sluggo has had di­rect and in­di­rect in­flu­ence on the Pan­das and Pronghorns since the in­cep­tion of both pro­grams,” said Langevin in a re­lease from Pronghorn Athletics. “He has been in­volved in the coach­ing setup for both pro­grams and served as a per­sonal men­tor for me for over 20 years.”

In ad­di­tion to hav­ing a hand in the rugby devel­op­ment in Al­berta and Canada, Sug­gitt had an im­pact on many coaches in the univer­sity game, in­clud­ing Pan­das head coach Matt Par­rish.

“I have been coached by, coached with and coached against Ric since I came to Canada 20 years ago,” said Par­rish. “As my wife, Heather, and Jenn (Ric’s wife) played to­gether as well, our fam­i­lies are close.”

Two more for­mer play­ers of Sug­gitt’s, Maria Gallo (UBC) and Co­lette McAuley (Guelph) cur­rently coach U SPORTS women’s rugby teams.

“Al­though this week­end will be a tough day for many of us, I love that Ric’s mem­ory will re­main for years to come in this game and tro­phy be­tween our schools,” con­tin­ued Par­rish.

Neil and the Langevin fam­ily have gra­ciously do­nated a tro­phy that will be pre­sented an­nu­ally to the win­ner of the Canada West reg­u­lar sea­son game be­tween the Pronghorns and Pan­das going for­ward.

This week­end’s fi­nal con­fer­ence game for both teams has se­ri­ous play­off im­pli­ca­tions on the line as well. En­ter­ing the game, the Pronghorns (1-2) lead the Pan­das (0-3) by four points for fourth place and the fi­nal spot in the Canada West tour­na­ment. With a win, the Pronghorns could move up to as high as third but a Pan­das win po­ten­tially could elim­i­nate the Pronghorns from the tour­na­ment de­pend­ing on bonus points and points for and against dif­fer­en­tial.

http://canadawest.yaretv.com/.

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