Crosbie's rugby work knows no bounds

John Browne
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Veteran coach and manager contributes in his own unique way

Three years ago, just after the national rugby festival bronze medals were handed to the Newfoundland's under 16 team, coach Bas Crosbie tore off his shirt and began flexing his muscles to the delight of some fans while others just shook their heads.

After all, it was just Bas being Bas and, well, it's rugby.

Crosbie also got himself in a little hot water during the same tournament for his not-so-diplomatic remarks about the visiting Ontario team.

Bas Crosbie may have a reputation for being abrupt and opinionated, but he cant be faulted for his dedication to the sport of rugby. The St. Johns native has coached and managed countless teams over the years, but insists his greatest passion is teaching

Three years ago, just after the national rugby festival bronze medals were handed to the Newfoundland's under 16 team, coach Bas Crosbie tore off his shirt and began flexing his muscles to the delight of some fans while others just shook their heads.

After all, it was just Bas being Bas and, well, it's rugby.

Crosbie also got himself in a little hot water during the same tournament for his not-so-diplomatic remarks about the visiting Ontario team.

"I hate to lose. I take losing hard, so it's best for any reporter to wait about 45 minutes if you want to talk to me after a loss because I might say anything," admits Crosbie.

"Bas is a knarly type of a guy," concedes provincial coach Pat Parfrey, "but he's our guy and the rest of Canada has to respond to his direct and usually accurate commentary."

Adds Parfrey about Crosbie: "He's occasionally abrupt, always opinionated and utterly trustworthy.

"He is loved in the rugby community for his distinctive character - a community with its fair share of lovable characters - and for his commitment to rugby development at local, provincial and national levels," Parfrey noted.

The provincial head coach understands Crosbie's worth to the overall development of the sport.

"Not only does he run the youngest of our four local clubs (Baymen) which has placed a number of players on national teams, including Sean O'Leary and Ciaran Hearn, he also manages the affairs of our provincial under-age teams teams and coaches the provincial U16 team," said Parfrey.

"His coaching prepares the players for future success because it's with U16 team that they learn the basics.

"His highly successful school team (Holy Spirit) is the biggest feeder of the under-age provincial teams," said Parfrey, "and he does a lot of unrecognized jobs."

Parfrey said rugby is proud of its three Canada Games medals in four competitions and Crosbie was an "integral cog in the management wheel" of those teams.

Crosbie, who is also manager of the provincial U-18 squad, is rated as an influential selector "because of his insightful assesment of rugby ability and his thoughtfulness in ensuring all got fair treatment," said Parfrey.

Crosbie said he does some work with the under-20 team although he has scaled back his managerial duties with the senior Rock team because it was just too much, but he said he'll still help when needed.

"Bas is the quintessential unsung hero," according to Parfrey, "because he is really a fan in the true sense of the word. He is a fanatic who thinks and acts on his interest 24 hours a day, 12 months a year."

In fact, Crosbie figures he puts in about 20 hours a week with his coaching and management work which also involves fundraising and arranging travel and accommodations when teams go on tour.

Born in St. John's, Crosbie moved to Conception Bay South when he was three years old. He was introduced to rugby at the high school level with Holy Spirit.

Crosbie credits Frank Deacy, who died in 2008, with teaching him the rugby skills he's been able to pass on to young players.

"Frank asked me to help him with the Holy Spirt high school team after I graduated," said Crosbie, who has also coached Queen Elizabeth High School team.

"I wasn't good enough of a player to move on to the next level, but Frank recognized that I wanted to stay involved in the game in some way," explained Crosbie, who continued playing the game up until four years ago when he tore his ACL.

"The players I love coaching the most are the high schoolers," said Crosbie, "because a lot of them are just starting out in the game and they've got a lot of enthusiasm. They get a real kick out of representing their school."

Crosbie said teaching the players the basics of the game and seeing them improve as they go through the system is very satisfying.

"My players may not be as good as players in the higher age groups, but they can fit in because they know what we are trying to do."

Crosbie, who said he got into managing teams because he wanted to be involved in the game at the provincial level, said he'd love to see the day when Newfoundland won an age-group national championship.

At the time he got involved he said there was only one provincial (under-19) team, but there were openings when under-16 and under-18 teams were added.

Crosbie said it's always great when a provincial teams is a able to win a national medal of any colour but he adds, "As a coach, if the players exceed their expectations it's satisfying.

"I really want a junior national championship. I don't know if that's possible, but it's something I'm always going to strive for."

Like most local sports, Crosbie says rugby could use more help at various levels of the game.

"We need more people. Hopefully, some of the veteran players or players who have retired will give something back," said Crosbie, the vice president of finance and adminstration at Crosbie Job Insurance.

Most of Crosbie's volunteer work involves rugby, but he is also president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Newfoundland which has raised thousands of dollars for Daffodil Place.

Crosbie admits that when the end of October comes and the last game of rugby is played, "I don't want to see any rugby players - even if they are my friends - for at least a month and that's the truth. Nothing against those guys, but I need my down time."

He said it doesn't bother him if there are people who don't appreciate what he does or if he gets any criticism from time to time.

"For the most part," he said "the people generally appreciate it. I've had kids come up to me and say: 'You don't get paid for this?,' so they obviously know how much that's put in."

Crosbie says he has no thoughts of giving up his volunteer rugby work any time soon, although he admits there are days when he questions why the heck he's still involved, "but that passes pretty quickly," he adds.

"My girlfriend," he said, "would probably say enough is enough, but I do what I love."

"Watching kids turn into responsible young men or perhaps saving a kid from going down the wrong path makes it all worthwhile."

Organizations: Queen Elizabeth High School, Crosbie Job Insurance, Insurance Brokers Association of Newfoundland

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Ontario, Canada St. John's

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Recent comments

  • Mike
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    An excellent coach, well deserved write up. A blessing for Newfoundland Rugby.

  • Justin
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Bas and Parfrey are a good match....ignorant and foul mouthed...just the ones you want handling your kids!

  • Well
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02


    I think you mean to use the word rude and not ignorant. Someone who is lacking in education is ignorant. You seem to mean to use the word rude, but in misusing the word ignorant, you have proven that of yourself.

    Nice article on Bas. The nicest part of it is that it is Frank Deacy's legacy living on someone he recruited to help organize things.

    Rugby has the best organization by far of any sport in the province. It competes at a higher level than any other sport in the province also. It's the contributions of people like this who so many people don't know about that makes the province competitive.

    I hope they all keep up the great work. It would be nice to see rugby start at a much younger age in the province.

  • Mark
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Ignorant is a word I would use for someone who makes a comment without knowing the subject, not one I would use for Dr. Parfrey and Bas who have been involved in the game and helping kids for the better part of 20 years.

  • Seth
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Foul mouthed? Sometimes, when the situation calls for it, but ignorant? Absolutely not. I've learned more in the way of teamwork and responsability from Pat and Bas over the past few years than I ever could have without them.

  • Justin
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    To Well Done....I agree with the reference to Mr. Deacy. He was the one who brought class to the teams that Parfrey coached. And by the way, if rude is the best word to use to characterize the ignorance of Parfrey and Bas, I'm fine with that.

  • Justin
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Mark, I know the subject as well as Bas and Pat. And yes, they are both ignorant and neither fits the bill as suitable coaches for children and youth, 18 years of age and under. They can curse and grunt at the adults all they want.

  • Mark
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Following in the footsteps of his father Jim who gave time, money and energy to the development of softball and baseball in CBS. A family of great sports fans who walk the talk.
    Well done Bas and Jim before him.