Velox Valhallians 102
written by Barry Wheelhouse
I have been a member of the Velox Valhallians Rugby Club, Victoria, BC since fall of 1971, joining at the age of 21 as a 2nd Division player. At that time the Club was known as ‘Velox Rugby Club’.
The Club had been formed by Gordie Hemmingway in the 1968 rugby season. Members of the Club at that time were an offshoot of players who had left the James Bay Athletic Association. They wanted to play a more wide open style of rugby, with a running attack second to none. Approval was gained from the VIRU and the new team was formed. Velox Omnia Vincit is Latin for ‘speed conquers all’.
The original philosophy of Velox was ‘fast open play’. Coincidentally the laws have changed recently to promote the idea of fast open play. Back then we didn’t have a clubhouse and our home park was at Lambrick Park, Saanich municipality of Greater Victoria. Being a young Club with only about 20 members, all in their early 20’s, there was only a 2nd Division team. However, our Club gained province-wide recognition when in the 1972-73 season we won the Vancouver Island Rugby Union Second Division playoffs.
We went on to play in the B.C. finals but lost, however by the next season the Club felt secure enough to move to the VIRU First Division. It wasn’t until several years later that the Velox Rugby Club gained a clubhouse (1st picture below). One of the Velox players’ parents, Jim Hume (a well-known Victoria journalist), moved out of his leased home but his youngest son, Jon Hume, remained living there. Three month’s later Velox took over the rent payments and became the official tenants at 3957 Gordon Head Road, which is where the Club is still situated today.
As years went by, the upstairs of the house was turned into a suite and the main floor became the rugby clubhouse. The walls of the main floor were removed to make the Club more open, and a bar was built by the members. Many an hour was spent by the members standing on the back porch, with a beer in one hand, looking out over the old run down apple orchard and discussing how this orchard should be turned into a rugby field.
In the late 1980’s the vision turned into reality. In 1987, with the formation of the Spartans Youth Football Association and the amalgamation of the Velox Rugby Club with a group of alumni University of Victoria players, The Valhallians, the Club changed it’s name to ‘Velox-Valhallians R.F.C.’ With this expanded membership, there became a need for field facilities. After generous negotiations between B.C. Hydro and representatives of these three organizations, a long term lease was negotiated on the site of the former Velox Clubhouse.
The Club tore down the old house, and built our present facility, which was officially opened on September 7, 1989. The old orchard was turned into a rugby field with an adjacent practice field. The clubhouse now has three levels. Change rooms, weight lifting room and a small bar are in the basement. The main floor has an open dance area, the main bar, pool table and darts section, and a lounge area. The upstairs has a caretaker suite and an office for the manager and the coach.
The Club has come a long way from one team to having had teams in all divisions of the Vancouver Island Rugby Union. In addition we have an active Women’s rugby team and also an under 17 junior team.
Here are some pictures of the Velox field and club house being build and prepared back in 1998.