The 2010 Montreal Irish RFC banquet promised to be the premiere event in the MIRFC social calendar and patrons were not disappointed.
The chosen venue (Sul Viale – Upper Lachine) was laid out perfectly with two screens at either end allowing all members to see the various entertaining and nostalgic slide shows that had been prepared by event hosts Neale McDevitt and Dave Crandall.
Dining Room (before we arrived)
The evening started with a cocktail hour and some rolling video footage of the Men’s 1st Division final. When the reel repeated at the end of the evening it was unclear if the shaking was due to the camerawork or the vino-induced swaying of many of the viewers.
As expected in this historic year it was a sell-out attendance and everyone made an extra special effort towards sartorial elegance. Neale had even combed his hair.
Stereo MC’s – Neale and Dave
After an hour or so the jovial crowd took their seats for some delicious plates of antipasto and the beginning of the awards show.
First up were the ladies awards with four prizes in all; MVP 1st XV, MVP 2nd XV , Most Improved Player and Rookie of the Year.
A huge congratulation goes to the much deserved winners:
– MVP 1st XV Ali Oshefsky (in absentia)
A flying flanker with a natural talent for line out jumping, Ali really raised her game in 2010 and stepped up to provide some great performances in the 2010 season.
Most Valuable Player 2nd XV Arielle Lavender
Arielle has improved steadily over her past few years with the Irish and her natural pace ensured that she was a key member of the women’s set up in 2010. A flying winger with great potential she will no doubt be pushing for her place on the 1st XV.
Most Improved Player Taylor-Shannon Baruchel
Being relatively new to rugby Taylor demonstrated a very steep learning curve from her 2009 season and it was obvious to all that she took her performances very seriously in 2010. Relishing her position in the front row, Taylor benefitted greatly from being involved with the very successful Concordia Stingers team of 2010 and will no doubt go on to impress further in 2011.
Rookie of the Year Kate Parkinson
New to the Irish in 2010, Kate settled into the team very quickly and has a remarkably calm presence on the field for such a young girl. With the ability to pass, kick and think quickly Kate will be a valuable part of the Irish set up for the years to come and we are very happy she chose the Irish.
Dinner then continued with a simple but very tasty pasta dish. Penne in a tomato sauce with fresh basil and was cooked perfectly as was to be expected in a well reputed Italian restaurant.
The Antipasto Course
Next came some of the photos most members wish had never been snapped and Neale had pulled together a highly entertaining “Beverly Hills or just Hillbilly” slide show that showed members looking their best and yes you’ve guessed it – their straw munching, chicken chasing, cousin cuddling, chateauguay worst.
Having taken much of the heat throughout the year for many ridiculous on and off field, ice cream chasing poses – I watched this highlight reel – breath held. Fortunately it seems there were many jewels kept under lock and key until Saturday night and the crowd were laughing hysterically at the hero to zero theme of this presentation.
Next up was a special presentation for the coaching staff whose tireless efforts were recognised with the presentation of a commemorative beer glass engraved with the MIRFC logo and a hat to keep three of their five balding heads warm in the off-season. There were also some special announcements. Sadly after years of service to the club, Neale will not be coaching the women’s team next year and we want to thank him again for everything he has done – a genuine club man through and through.
It was also announced that Ian Baillie will become the men’s senior head coach for 2011 and we welcome him to the Irish and look forward to taking advantage of his knowledge and experience next year. Andy Tolson who had a remarkable success rate last year as coach is committed in 2011 to playing with the team and working in a developmental coaching role and the club again would like to seriously thank Andy for his efforts in what was one of the most successful in the club’s history.
Next up were some more comical snaps and photo-shop wizardry to make for some great entertainment.
There was a special presentation of bouquets of flowers for the Athletic Therapists in recognition of their commitment last season and helping keep players fit and injury free to help us achieve our goals.
Dinner was served and both the short rib of beef and eggplant parmagiana were very well received by guests all of whom were very complimentary towards the flavour and portion size of the meal.
The meal was rounded off by the men’s award presentations and the decisions were tough according to coaches in a season were all players were committed to winning three cups.
First up was “Rookie of the Year” and although there were fitting nominations – young Xavier Lindley fittingly took the prize in what was his first season of senior rugby.
Most Improved Player: Etienne Labrie (for being a dynamic force in all areas of the game. Playing back row and front row equally well and being a stand out performer every time he took the field this season. Not to mention his selfless commitment to the club by making himself available wherever needed this year especially on Finals day).
3rd XV – MVP: Steven Boire (for his commitment and rapid development throughout the season – topped off by a match winning try in the grand final).
2nd XV MVP: Rob (Number 2) Lowe: (for his complete dominance of the mid field in the 2nd Division League in both attack and defence, and scoring five tries in one game).
1st XV MVP: Gary MacDougall (for consistently solid performances and work rate in the front row in every single game of the season. Gary’s performance and attitude is reflective of the successes of the team in 2010).
MVP 1st XV Gary (Turd Ferguson) MacDougall
Captain of the Year: Bob Meunier (for taking the 2nd XV to the finals in an undefeated season and having the experience and class to take defeat in the last game as simply a challenge for the team in 2011).
In tribute to the truly international flavour of the 2010 MIRFC 1st XV there was a special presentation to the backline with T-Shirts displaying the flags of the players respective Home Unions. Kudos to the photographer for also capturing a very rare sight indeed as you will see below.
T-Shirt with flags of countries represented in 1st XV back line
A rare shot of Morgan actually putting a shirt on!!
Mr McDevitt followed this presentation and gave a very touching eulogy to the never to be forgotten and much loved Des O’Neill and added a well appreciated sentiment to the evening and summarised nicely what the Montreal Irish RFC is all about.
Finally there was the Jimmy Gordon Club Person of the Year award which went to Sheena Stinson for all her efforts throughout the entire season at the clubhouse in keeping all members well fed, watered and in comfort. It was fitting that this was presented whilst members rounded off their meal with coffee and delicious Guinness (yes Guinness) cupcakes and a MIRFC cake all baked by Sheena’s own fair hands.
There were of course some pictures of near nudity from many members before the dining tables were cleared away and members danced and drank into the wee small hours, eventually taking off home to reflect and dream about what was no doubt a wonderful season.
2011 here we come!
Editor’s note: Text written by Marky G; photos by Larissa, Butch, Neale and others.