A memorial rugby tournament this weekend will celebrate the memory of two University of Calgary rugby players whose lives ended too soon.
Brian Collins and Joah Atkinson were struck and killed by a speeding minivan Sept. 30, 2003 as they were returning from a rugby club executive meeting. Families and fellow rugby enthusiasts will gather at the Brian Collins and Joah Atkinson Memorial Cup to remember the couple by playing the game the pair loved.
Both Collins, a political science student, and Atkinson, a general studies student with dreams of a career in education, were dedicated members of the U of C Rugby Football Club, in addition to playing for other Calgary clubs. The memorial cup pits the Dinos men’s team against Collins’ club team, the Calgary Saracens RFC, and the Dinos women’s team against Atkinson’s club team, the Calgary Irish Women’s RFC.
Though the game is free, proceeds from 50/50 ticket sales will go towards the Brian Collins and Joah Atkinson Memorial Scholarship.
“It’s important because rugby was so important to them and they really wanted it to be successful on campus,” said U of C RFC president Dean Kittleson. “If [the scholarship] goes to a rugby player then it’s helping them succeed.”
The scholarship was initiated by friend and teammate Blake Chalmers in 2003, and awards $1,500 to one male and one female Dinos athlete per year. The families hope the memorial cup will raise enough money to bring the total fund up to $100,000, at which point it will be self-sustaining, noted Kittleson.
In addition to the memorial cup, there have been many other projects around campus to ensure the memories of Collins and Atkinson live on. Each summer the Atkinson and Collins families and friends enter a team in the Calgary marathon, half-marathon and 10 km race. Dubbed the “Forever Young Run,” the team raises money to support the scholarship.
In 2004, the U of C also dedicated a garden on the west side of Administration in memory of Collins and Atkinson.
The Brian Collins and Joah Atkinson Memorial Cup takes place Sat., Sept. 30 at the Calgary Rugby Park, 9025 Sheppard Road SE.
Kick off for the women’s game is at 1:30 p.m. with the men’s game to follow at 3 p.m.
For more info about the U of C RFC and the Brian Collins and Joah Atkinson Memorial Scholarship go to www.dinosrugby.com.