“Holy smoking Canadian Rugby Championship semis, Batman” Robin just might have said to his Dynamic Duo half-back partner about the conditions at Calgary Rugby Park yesterday. For the second time in less than a week, major sports and recreation events were being challenged by the very poor air quality caused by smoke heading east from hundreds of forest fires in BC.
As I was driving along Glenmore Trail to photograph the game, local radio station 660 News was reporting an Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) as high as 9. Walking through the gate, you could taste the smoke. Officials were in deep discussion over whether or not the games should go ahead. What was the trending air quality scale? Should the Calgary average be used? What was the latest info from the nearest meteorological station? And so on.
The compromise decision was to get both semi-finals going simultaneously at 5:00 pm before the air quality got worse. [Note: On checking the local weather data this morning, Calgary recorded a high of 9.4 on the AQHI when the games kicked off.]
In a rather rare event, four teams lined up on the main field to sing the national anthem, then the BC Bears and Ontario Blues popped over to Field 2. I joined them to photograph the first half then returned to the main field for the second half of the Prairie Wolf Pack versus Atlantic Rock game.
In a high scoring, back and forth game, Ontario Blues overcame the BC Bears to win 58-36. The Wolf Pack at halftime were in the lead by a point, 14-13. Atlantic Rock turned that around in the second half with some command and control rugby, taking better advantage of their possession to score two tries. Final score: 31-14.
The two final games are scheduled for Sunday, Aug 26. You might want to check the local weather before going.
Please visit J. Ashley Nixon Communications for more photos through the smoke.