David R. Voye Memorial rugby tournament soaring in popularity

Three-day event at Three Oaks attracted 17 off-Island teams

Published on May 15, 2017

The action is intense as the Three Oaks Axemen, striped jerseys, and Bluefield Bobcats battle for the ball. The action took place during a round-robin game in the 21st annual David R. Voye Memorial rugby tournament in Summerside on Thursday night.

© Jason Simmonds/Journal Pioneer

SUMMERSIDE – The David R. Voye Memorial rugby tournament has quietly become a major event on Summerside’s sports calendar.

The 21st annual tournament concluded on Saturday afternoon, and Joel Arsenault, athletic director at host Three Oaks Senior High School, termed it a success.
“All things considered, things went really, really well,” assessed Arsenault. “Leading up to the event we faced some challenges with the weather, and getting all the fields ready to go.”
With the weather clearing but still cool, Arsenault noted “we had really good crowds” on Friday evening as the host Three Oaks Axewomen and Axemen played back-to-back games.
“It seems like there is a lot of interest in the tournament,” said Arsenault. “The rosters themselves grow a little bit each year as teams are carrying more people. There is really a lot of people around.”
Games were played on three fields at Three Oaks and, on Friday afternoon, at Eric Johnson Field near Credit Union Place. The 24 entries – 12 boys and 12 girls – matched a tournament high.
“I love coming here,” said Northumberland Knighthawks senior co-captain Reed MacDonald, who was participating in his third Voye tournament. “They have a great set-up with the three fields (at Three Oaks).”

Businesses benefit
With 17 off-Island teams, Arsenault “heard a few comments from some local business people saying they have seen a lot of people in our shops and businesses.”
Arsenault praised the efforts of the student volunteers and officials, who “did a great job” making sure games started on schedule.
“Events like this just don’t happen themselves,” emphasized Arsenault. “You need a lot of teamwork and a lot of volunteers.”
It wasn’t all that long ago, Arsenault recalled, that the Voye tournament operated with eight or 10 teams.
“Then we were looking for 12 because that number really works well,” Arsenault went on to say. “We were able to spread the word through word of mouth and the rugby contacts that the coaches at our school have around the Maritimes, and through the rugby community to get to 24 where we are at now.”
To further illustrate the Voye tournament’s popularity, Arsenault confirmed there were teams on a waiting list this year.
“We were pushing up towards 27 teams that would have come had we had room,” said Arsenault, who noted organizers received “lots of favourable comments” from coaches.
“Some have already booked their hotels for next year,” he added.
Going forward, does Arsenault see the tournament expanding in the near future?
“It’s either you keep it at 24 (teams), or you almost need to make the jump to 32 (16 girls and 16 boys),” he answered. “Then you could look at doing tier divisions.
“There is a rugby tournament over in Rothesay that our teams frequently attend, and that’s the way they set it up. You have a Tier 1 and a Tier 2, and eight teams slotted into each tier for each gender.”
The 22nd annual tournament will be held in May 2018.

I love coming here. They have a great set-up with the three fields.

Northumberland outside centre Reed MacDonald

Did you now
David R. Voye Memorial rugby tournament:

The late David R. Voye was a driving force behind the formation of the rugby program at Three Oaks in the early 1990s.

A total of 38 games were played over three days.

Horton defeated Avon View 7-0 in the girls’ final and Northumberland topped Hants East 24-5 in the boys’ championship. All four finalists were from Nova Scotia.

With some teams carrying around 30 players, between 600 and 700 athletes were expected to participate.
The championship games on Saturday afternoon were moved to the Bus Depot field due to poor playing conditions on the Canada Games pitch due to the recent rain.

Along with the host Three Oaks Axemen and Axewomen, other P.E.I. entries included the Charlottetown Rural and Westisle girls along with the Bluefield, Rural and Westisle boys.