R.I.P. Tide

Deceased Members - They are now playing for the RIP Tide.

Gerry Main #7
Jack Patrick #11
Ross Irving  #18
John Skillings #23 (1934 - 2004)
Francisco Betanzo #33 (1944 - 2004)
Alec Macdonald #35
James Forsyth #43
Hector Nicholson #48
Leo Kozak #58
Denis Hoyle #59
Campbell Forbes #63
Owen Williams
Jimmy Aitken (1902 - 2008)
Sam Weller #95 (1924 - 2010)
Jack Fleming #4 (1936 - 2010)
Bill Thomson (1944 - 2012)



THOMSON, William (Bill) May 20, 1944 - August 30, 2012

After a courageous battle with cancer, Bill passed away in Hospice in the arms of his family. Beloved husband to Bonnie; cherished father to Robert and Sheri (Joe) Baker, and precious Grandpa to Julia, Bill lived an honourable life, putting family and friends foremost in his thoughts and deeds. He also leaves to mourn sisters, Heather Thomson, and Dorothy (Jack) Linton and their families, along with many life-long friends. Bill worked for years in the printing business throughout the region and ultimately retired from management of the Royal Roads University bookstore. A lover of "all things sports," Bill was a past member of the Ebb Tide Rugby Club. For years Bill was a volunteer and site manager for the Terrivic Jazz Festivals. Friends and family will remember him for his passion for camping... first with tents and tarps, and later with the comforts of motorhoming. Bill's "other love," his Harley, took him (and Bonnie) on many wonderful trips. "A life well lived dad . . . Ride on!" A gathering of friends will be held at the family home on Saturday, September 29 at 2 pm.


Jack Fleming

My Rugby Dad - Jack Fleming (presented by Shane Muldrew)

Good afternoon, my name is Shane Muldrew and, as president of Jack’s beloved Ebb Tide Rugby Football Club, I have the difficult duty yet great privilege to honour our dear friend and team-mate today.  That said...

Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there, I did not die.

This poem’s images remind us that our loved one is always here - in our hearts – and I felt it important to begin my tribute to Jack with that thought rather than end on it.Well, you don’t often see Ebb Tide members so well-groomed in this clubhouse on a Sunday afternoon.  Typically, we’re here post-game scraped, bruised and battered recouping with a cold beer and recounting moments of glory that no-one else witnessed.  Not today though because we postponed our game to celebrate Jack’s life.

Yes, Jack, I could hear you scolding me the moment that I suggested it knowing full well that you lived by “there is no ‘I’ in team”.  I can see you shaking your head now in disbelief that we actually went ahead and did it.  Trust me, Rugby Dad, it was an easy decision... and that was without even factoring in our opponents-to-be. My tribute will only provide a brief snapshot of Jack Fleming the rugby man – #4 – lock aka second row forward – powering scrums – towering in line-outs – leading by example – always looking for work and always getting the job done.

I took an instant liking to Jack the moment we met - sounds familiar, I’m sure.  I soon grew to greatly admire him – who couldn’t?  Jack was supportive, warm & kind, engaging, witty, understanding, respectful and wise.  He led with a gentle hand and he was an amazing mentor.  And all these qualities came wrapped in unbridled zest for life. Jack’s fun-loving spirit certainly stood out on our mini-tour to Calgary in 2004, aka ‘The Blues Brothers’ tour.  We dressed the part in black suits, skinny ties, dark glasses and pork-pie hats, and we attracted attention everywhere we went.  No-one more so than our Jack... he was a natural... after all, he was ‘Black Jack’ and, man, he had soul.

Jack certainly was in the groove that weekend!  He accompanied us with his ukulele while we shamelessly sang in keys that would silence tom-cats.  He outlasted younger ‘hard-core’ players every evening and he was raring to meet the new day every morning.  And who could forget watching in awe as members of Canada’s national women’s rugby team lined up to dance with our graceful veteran Saturday night.  Jack’s energy was infectious and his trademark school-boy grin beamed all weekend. Jack joined the Ebb Tide in 1981 and he made a profound difference on & off the field.  Our club historian, Ian Cameron, interviewed many veteran members while writing our 35-year history book in 2008.  Jack provided Ian humorous stories about Ebb Tide episodes home and abroad, as well as important insights about our roots that will help shape our future.  Jack contributed so much to our club over the years and Ian commemorated him in our history book with this vignette:

No-one has done more for the Ebb Tide than Jack Fleming, and his wife June.  Six years as president, at least ten as newsletter editor, four as social convener with June, and 14 as a director: Jack put in more hours on Ebb Tide business than anyone before or since, with the possible exception of Harry Turner, and that would be a close race.  Jack’s meticulous attention to detail and the paper trail made writing the part of this history concerning the years he was president and newsletter editor very easy. It was all there, especially in the newsletters, which included everything a historian could ask for. Thanks, Jack.  Rugby has a unique culture that bonds unlike any other sport and that defies explanation or description.  You have to experience it firsthand and when you have your ‘a-ha’ moment, you truly feel part of the rugby family; right, June?  June had many memorable Ebb Tide moments with Jack – Christmas dinner with jugs of wine under the table at Foo Hong’s Chinese restaurant, staying at the Mr. Sport Motel on Kingsway above the strip bar that no-one mentioned to the ladies beforehand, and appearing before the tour judge in Japan in 1993, to name a few.  Jack fondly recounted the last event to Ian for our history book:

“We were going across what must be the longest bridge in the world, from Amagasaki to Osaka, and half way across there’s an island, with a spiral ramp from the bridge down to sea level, and we’d been on the bus for four hours and we were hungry, so we went down there and ate lunch, and everyone was tired, and very quiet, and on the way back up this spiral ramp June looks out of the window and says, ‘I’ve never seen such a huge erection.’ Everyone heard her, and then the bus wasn’t quiet at all. I’ve never seen such a huge fine as the one John Skillings gave her at court.”

June, we also celebrate you today because you are an important member of our Ebb Tide family.  You contributed so much to Jack’s success with the club and his love of rugby.  In fact, you rekindled Jack’s interest in rugby – he only played it in high school and normal school, and he focussed on football in university.  You loved rugby and you ‘gently’ persuaded him to play again. bYou happily shared rugby with Jack and Jack with rugby.  You cheered for him and you nursed his battle wounds.  You helped him keep things in perspective as he led the club.  You organized and served post-game meals, you hosted events at your home for touring teams, and you have always represented us with grace.  Together, you and Jack could make the impossible possible – who else could arrange a wedding on short notice for a Japanese player and his fiancée during his club tour in Victoria, and then incorporate their reception into the post-game hosting.

Our strength as a club comes, in no small part, from your love and your support, June.  We are extremely grateful and we dearly love you.  Of course, none of us could ever appreciate you as much as Jack whose last official act as club president was to thank you for your understanding and support, and for being his unofficial co-president. I can pinpoint my special bond with Jack to our Japan tour in 2006.  The ‘wow’ moments were endless and Jack made a lasting impression on me, and many others, too.

Jack was our elder statesman and, in his 70th year, the oldest player on tour.  He had made many Japanese friends over the years and each club treated ‘Fleming-san’ with immense respect.  It never went to his head - he accepted it with dignity and humility.  Jack spoke graciously at each post-game reception when he presented the host club with a First Nations mask specially selected for them.  He prepared for each game with cheerful composure and proudly pulled on his yellow shorts that signify a player in his 70s.  He played every game with tenacity and grit, and he always respected the spirit of old boys’ rugby.  He socialized effortlessly and made everyone feel comfortable no matter the occasion – formal dinners with our Japanese hosts, scotch tasting at Moose Court, sing-song sessions on the bus, or celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in a back-alley Irish bar in Osaka.

We dedicated our final game of the tour to Jack and our plan was simple... set him up to score a try.  When the golden moment appeared, however, Jack was nowhere near the play.  Our ball carrier started running in circles trying to keep away from the Japanese, and we’re yelling, “Where’s Jack? Get the ball to Jack!”  Meanwhile, Jack was watching this gong show wondering what the heck was going on.  You see, we hadn’t told him the plan because we knew that he would never let us make the game about him – “no ‘I’ in team” for Jack.  He rolled his eyes when we let him in on the secret and, knowing that it came from our hearts, he grinned and kindly played along.

Jack always inspired me and the 2006 tour magnified my admiration of him.  Thankfully, I made that known to Jack before the tour ended and he became, and always will be, my ‘rugby dad’. Jack is now playing rugby, heaven’s game, with the RIP Tide.  I have no doubt that they clapped him through the gates with a hero’s welcome and that his school-boy grin is shining strong.

In closing, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote:

To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
to earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty;
to find the best in others;
to leave the world a bit better
whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
to know that one life has breathed easier
because you lived here.
This is to have succeeded.

Jack, you succeeded on all accounts.  You will always be in our hearts – especially mine, Rugby Dad.   Until we meet again.

October 17, 2010


Bob Coutts

Bob Coutts passed away on August 17, 2010. Here is a small vignette of Bob painted by Jack Fleming.   Bob was a well-known athlete in Victoria, playing high-level lacrosse, football and rugby.  He played on several football teams up to the semi-pro level including the Vampires and the Drakes.  Bob played for JBAA in the 50's and 60's in the run-up to the highly successful run-up to the series of provincial championships won by the club during the 70's.  Bob also played on the Crimson Tide on several occasions.  In the late 70's and early 80's Bob played for Ebb Tide.  He was a formidable power in the scrums of the day.  He then turned his attention to coaching and coached in several sports up until recent years.  He was a great player in his day, quiet and forceful, and well-liked by his teammates.



Sam Weller  1924 - 2010

Sam passed away suddenly last Sunday and the news has come as a shock to all that knew him.  Sam was an absolute gentleman in every sense of the word - he acknowledged everyone by name and greeted them with a smile and a firm warm handshake.  Sam was an ardent supporter of rugby and most of all, his two clubs - Ebb Tide RFC and James Bay AA.  He supported all of our events and undertakings, including our AGM May 20 where he was the elder statesman amongst the members.  Sam always maintained his membership and his presence that evening spoke to its importance as well as his dedication to our club.

Sam was born December 12, 1924 in London's notorious East End.  He had the good fortune of being accepted into the Eton Manor Boys Club, named after Eton College whose old boys came to Hackney to help the poor.  Boys could join Eton Manor when they were 14, but not after 16.  In a probationary month, they were expected to clock up points by attending activities, which included PT, table tennis, football, rugby, cricket, rifle shooting, boxing, chess, draughts, swimming and running.  Boys were expected to supply their own runners but equipment was provided.  At least two Old Etonians were in the club every evening organising activities for the boys.  In the early days, the first thing a boy was likely to be given when he joined was soap and, perhaps, a pair of boots. Hot showers were a scarce luxury at home for the majority of the boys.

Eton Manor made a lasting impression on Sam.  He always remembered the opportunities that he had received there through the generosity of others and he paid it forward.  When Sam moved to Victoria in 1989, he met Lynn Morton and learned that Lynn was a rugby man involved with JBAA and Ebb Tide.  Sam told Lynn that he wanted to get involved with young people and rugby again, and Lynn introduced him to both clubs.  Sam immediately rolled up his sleeves and took on any task that needed attention.  Sam continued to do so quietly and efficiently throughout the years, without any expectation of applause or reward.

An outstanding example of Sam's selflessness occurred during the Ebb Tide tour to Japan in 1992.   He was the tour manager and his team-mates knew that they could count on him to look after the endless details that came with that role.  As the tour progressed, injuries took their toll on players and the ranks were eventually thinned to a few good men standing.  I am told that Sam hadn't played since his youth but he didn't hesitate to lace up the boots when asked him because the games were important and the team needed his help.

Sam's passing is a huge loss for our rugby community and he will be sorely missed.  We send our sincere condolences to his dear wife of 59 years, Trudy, and their son, Gordon.  Both are in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time. 

Sam is now playing for the RIP Tide.  He is in good company and if the angels ever need a scorekeeper, they have the best man for the job.  You created a legacy that will always be a source of inspiration, Sam, and we will always miss you...rest in peace.


Francisco Betanzo  1944 - 2004 

Francisco was born in Argentina.  He dedicated himself to his first love rugby, began in his teens and developed into a celebrated first division player for Los Matreros and Pucara Clubs in Buenas Aires. He moved to Los Angeles for 2 years where he met the love of his life, Rowena, and then moved to Saskatoon then Regina and finally to Victoria where he played with the Ebb Tide until 2004. He toured Japan with the Ebb Tide in 1992.

He coached Victoria and Reynolds High School teams as well as selecting and developing young players for the BC Summer Games and Japan Cup. He also regularly played soccer during rugby’s off season to keep fit.



John Skillings  1934 - 2004

John was born in Victoria, Canada and his father won the first ever cap for Canada against Japan in 1932. He played rugby for the Crimson Tide and BC and played against the New Zealand All Blacks in 1967. John joined the Ebb Tide in 1972 and toured Japan several times as well as Britain, California and Newfoundland. As a long time Ebb Tide player John established lifelong friendships through rugby. His five grandsons have played rugby they all wore one of his favorite rugby ties at his funeral. John’s wife Joy continues to enjoy the friendships made through rugby. 

Jimmy Aitken  1920 - 2008