S.O.G. win

The Glengarry News - - Sports In The Glens - News

BY MAR­GARET CALDBICK

Staff The shad­ows were length­en­ing, but the light was still bril­liant when scat­tered groups of pow­er­fully-built Glen­garry men smelling of lin­i­ment and wear­ing duct-taped work boots be­gan ap­pear­ing at Sun­day’s Galarama, in St. Raphael’s.

The men were the six 8-mem­ber teams ar­riv­ing to com­pete in the church fundraiser’s ex­cit­ing fi­nale, the tug-of-war com­pe­ti­tion. When they were spot­ted, peo­ple started head­ing to the con­test site to stake out their spots. By the start of the event, 400 peo­ple were lined up and wait­ing.

Re­turn­ing, were the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons, the Sons of Glen­garry, a brawny team that trains out of Sum­mer­stown, coached by George Lapierre. The team won the Galarama Chal­lenge last year, when the con­test was re­vived af­ter a near two-decade hia­tus.

Other teams were the Sons’ arch- ri­vals, South Glen­garry, to whom they lost at this year’s Maxville Fair; the Glen­garry Out­houses, a lighter-weight team that com­pen­sates with stamina and su­perb form; the kilted SD&G High­landers gear­ing up for this week­end’s Glen­garry High­land Games High­land Reg­i­ments tug- of- war; the Tug­boats; and a young but se­ri­ous team from Tagwi Sec­ondary School, in Avon­more.

Af­ter the round robin, it came down to a grit­ted-teeth show­down be­tween the Sons of Glen­garry and South Glen­garry.

In the first pull of the three­p­ull fi­nal, the Sons of Glen­garry were in full con­trol and clearly had it, with South Glen­garry dragged within a foot of the cen­tre line.

Sud­denly it all fell apart when the Sons lost their rhythm and, de­spite savage at­tempts to dig their heels into the turf and re­gain con­trol, the South Glen­garry brigade eas­ily pulled their op­po­nents across the line. The up­set hap­pened so quickly that the slack rope tossed the win­ners head-over-heels into a pile.

“A few of the guys slipped and it threw every­body off,” says Sons of Glen­garry coach George Lapierre. “The South still had some trac­tion, and they took ad­van­tage and caught us on a slip.”

At the break, the team re­grouped, and with Lapierre’s coach com­mands to calm down, not panic, stay fo­cused, and stay steady, the Sons man­aged an ex­cit­ing come­back to win the next two pulls.

“They were tired be­fore that last pull. You don’t know un­til you ac­tu­ally get on that rope that it’s like pulling against a house that doesn’t want to move,” Lapierre ex­plains.

“When you’re putting strain against some­thing that’s not mov­ing it drains ev­ery­thing out of you.”

The win for the Sons was their third of the com­pet­i­tive sea­son.

The re­birth of the tug-of-war at last year’s Galarama and at the 2008 Glen­garry High­land Games is part of a world­wide resurgence in pop­u­lar­ity in the an­cient sport.

Tug-of-war was con­tested as a team event in the Sum­mer Olympics at ev­ery Olympiad from 1900 to 1920, and the TugOf-War In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion (TWIF) is cur­rently try­ing to get the sport back into the Olympics in time for the 2024 Games.

Here at home, Sons of Glen­garry team mem­ber Dale Van­der Burg sees how the sport has changed lo­cally. “All the teams are start­ing to match up and they are all tough pulls,” he notes. “Every­one is prac­tis­ing a lot now.”

Van­der Burg ex­plains that the Galarama was prac­tice for the much-an­tic­i­pated Wil­liamstown Fair tug-of-war com­pe­ti­tion, set for Sun­day, Aug. 13.

The first prize is the MacGil­livray Tro­phy and a purse of $1,000.

But the tro­phy win is only part of the rea­son the team is train­ing bru­tally hard in prepa­ra­tion.

In Wil­liamstown the team will be com­ing face- to- face with de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons and their chief ad­ver­saries, South Glen­garry.

GET ‘ GAMES’

MAR­GARET CALDBICK PHOTO

PULL!: Mem­bers of the Sons of Glen­garry lean into a hearty tug, suc­cess­fully de­fend­ing their ti­tle at the Galarama.

SEAN BRAY PHOTO

‘A’ CHAMPS: Tol­hurst Law team­mates in back, from left, are Deb Jack­son, Marie-eve Kon­rad, Ash­leigh Tol­hurst, and Tara Bar­ton Stand­ing: Shan­non Steele, Al­li­son Simp­son, Kelsey Mode, Karen Beaulne, Janie West­gate, and Amelie Lemire. In front is...

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