“CanAm XXIV in Lambert was a really good experience.” Those are the words of Head-coach Dickson of the six-man international all-star football match held annually between American and Canadian teams. The all-star players are selected from Montana, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Texas, while the Canadian players are chosen from Saskatchewan and Alberta.
From a competition standpoint, the American’s were able to assemble a stronger team in the US than they could ever bring to Canada, leaving the Canadians with hands full this year. Canada was down 24-22 at half-time but could easily could have been up on them by 14. The American coaches made some adjustments at half that we couldn’t handle on both offence and defense. They really owned the line play in the third quarter and won 71-30. Our boys played really well but couldn’t handle the bigger line players from the US. Lorrin LeBlanc was named Defensive MVP and Ben Walz from Kerrobert was named the Offensive MVP.
The school and field in Lambert were both very nice. The focus down there was on the game, parade (which both teams participated in) and 4th of July celebrations including a ton of fireworks! The food was good, but the quantity was not anywhere near what our ladies in Wakaw provided.
From all accounts experiencing the 4th of July celebrations in person was a highlight of the weekend. The game in Lambert, Montana followed the 4-down, American football rules. Team USA was able to claim another win bringing to 19 the number of wins in the 24 year history of the match. For those like this reporter, who wonder why there is the difference in number of downs, here is the answer found on Electro-Mech Scoreboard Company’s website. Pre-1860 rugby football was played in Canada, but in 1861 the first so-called “gridiron” match was played in Toronto and the popularity of the sport sky-rocketed.
Walter Camp, one of the forefathers of football in North American as a whole, introduced the scrimmage and down and distance rules. There were a large number of rugby unions at that time in Canada, and they liked Camp’s ideas and implemented them. With the dawn of the new century, John Burnside, who captained the university football team in Toronto, reduced the quantity of players per side from 15 to 12, and brought in the rule in which teams must gain 10 years in 3 downs. (In Camp’s original rules, teams had 5 downs!) At this time, American football also had three downs, and this remained the case until 1912, when the rule makers elected to increase the number of downs from 3 to 4. The Canadian Rugby Union stayed with the Burnside rules, keeping three downs. Perhaps they would have followed the American example, but that remains as pure speculation because World War 1 forced the suspension of all official games for 2 years, and by the time things got going again, at the beginning of the 1920’s, any thoughts of changing the rules to meet the US standards had been dropped.
A comment from one of the American spectators shared on Facebook read: “Both teams had a lot of talent and it was fun to watch that level of play.” While a Canadian spectator commented: “An incredibly sportsmanlike game on both sides.”
The game will be back in Canada next year. This year’s game was the very first one played stateside in 24 years. There is no word yet of who will be hosting CanAm XXV.
Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wakaw Recorder