The Calgary Canadian Irish Athletic Club (CCIAC) or the “Calgary Irish” (as we are better known as) was founded in 1971 by Derek Wright and Jim Sullivan as an athletic club based on Irish values and heritage, but open to all-comers whatever their heritage or background. Both Derek and Jim continue to be involved to this day. We have been committed to being the premier outdoor athletic club in Calgary ever since.
It was decided early on not to confine the club’s activities to rugby, but to promote other amateur sports, and in 1973 a ladies field hockey section of the club was formed. In 1999 a women’s rugby team joined with the Irish to form one of the best women’s rugby programs in Canada.
The vision of the founding members was to introduce their native sport of rugby & field hockey to all Calgary sports enthusiasts, something we continue to do today in all our programs from our U7’s through to our Senior teams.
The clubs founding charter states that we will “promote amateur sports, to improve and maintain the moral, intellectual, physical and social qualities of its members and to stimulate good citizenship and friendship.” We at the Calgary Irish believe we have held true to the original intent of our founding members.
In 1993 the Irish was the first rugby club in Calgary to open it’s own clubhouse and playing fields, complete with 2 full size rugby pitches and 2 field hockey pitches, and in 2003 became the first club to open an indoor gym. The Irish host annually the Alberta High School Icebreaker Tournament, St Patrick’s Day 7’s, Girls Skills Camp and the Merv Popadynec Memorial Match.
We have over 400 members and have been fielding senior men/women and junior rugby teams, as well as a ladies field hockey team in regular competitions and regular seasons for the past 35 years.
Since its inception the club has been honoured by the selection of many of its members to play for Canada; men’s honours include the captain of the inaugural Sevens World Cupin Edinburgh in 1993 and representation on the Canadian 1999, 2003 and 2007 World Cup squads. Our women have also been honoured at the international level at both 7’s and 15’s including several members representing Canada in the 2010 Rugby World Cup.
The club has toured France and Ireland. In addition the club has hosted teams from Ireland, England, Wales, Scotland, Australia, Belgium, the United States, and other Canadian clubs. The Club has gained a tremendous worldwide reputation for the hospitality it offers.
Membership in the Calgary Irish is open to all, you don’t have to be Irish to wear the “green”. We run teams at the senior level from social to serious and our junior rugby programs are for youngsters from 7 to 19.
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Over the past few years we have been steadily building our player base with new, young, and old players, and players of all levels of skill and experience. We have a great coaching staff and the best facilities and resources in the city. We pride ourselves on being able to balance competitiveness with love for the game and fun, both on and off the pitch. All this, combined with the great attitudes of the players and the many friendships that have developed, allow us to offer every rugby player just what they are looking for.
Mini Rugby (U7- U11)
The Irish started the mini rugby program in order to promote rugby at the younger age levels. We accept kids from the age of 5 up to the age of 11 boys and girls, for the mini program. Unlike the Junior program the mini program does not introduce full contact rugby instead we coach the kids the basic skills of the game in a safe and controlled environment with an emphasis on having fun. Physical aspects of the game are only added as the child’s experience and age can assimilate them. We recently introduced flag rugby, similar to flag football instead of traditional touch rugby system.
For a good description of Flag Rugby see the Irish Tag Rugby Association (Tag rugby in Ireland is the same as flag rugby in Canada).
Junior Rugby (U13 – U19)
The Club takes a pride in having one of the best junior programs in Alberta. We run programs for both boys and girls from U13 to U19. These programs have proved to be the lifeblood of the club, having produced many fine players over the years that have progressed through to the senior ranks.