Saskatchewan Roughriders

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Saskatchewan Roughriders
2015 Saskatchewan Roughriders season

Saskatchewan Roughriders logo

Founded 1910
Based in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Home field Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field
New Mosaic Stadium (Projected 2017)
League Canadian Football League
Division West Division
Nickname(s) Riders, the Green and White, Sea of Green
Head coach Corey Chamblin
General manager Brendan Taman
Owner(s) Community owned
Grey Cup wins 4 (1966, 1989, 2007, 2013)
Current uniform
CFL SSK Jersey.png
Colours Green, white, black, and silver
Mascot(s) Gainer the Gopher

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are a professional Canadian football team based in Regina, Saskatchewan. The Roughriders play in the West Division of the Canadian Football League (CFL).

The Roughriders were founded in 1910 as the Regina Rugby Club. Although they were not the first team to play football in Western Canada, the club has maintained an unbroken organizational continuity since their founding. The Roughriders are the third-oldest professional gridiron football team in existence today (only the Arizona Cardinals and Toronto Argonauts are older), and one of the oldest professional sports teams still in existence in North America. Of these teams, the Roughriders are both the oldest still in existence that continuously has been based in Western Canada as well as the oldest in North America to continuously have been based west of St. Louis, Missouri. They are also the continent's oldest community-owned professional sports franchise, older than every American professional sports team outside baseball other than the aforementioned Cardinals (who, unlike the Roughriders, no longer play in their original city) and older than every Canadian sports team outside football except the Montreal Canadiens, who were founded about nine months prior to the Roughriders. The team changed their name to the Regina Roughriders in 1924 and finally to the current moniker in 1946. The Roughriders have played their home games at Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field since 1936.

The team draws fans from across Saskatchewan and Canada who are affectionately known as the "Rider Nation".[1] Their loyalty is all the more remarkable since the Roughriders play in the smallest market in the CFL, and the second-smallest major-league market in North America (only Green Bay, Wisconsin, is smaller). They have finished first in the Western Division seven times and have won the Western championship a record 28 times. They have played in the championship game 19 times and won four Grey Cups.

The team has had 20 players inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. The Riders' biggest rival is the Winnipeg Blue Bombers; games between the two are often sold out before the beginning of the season.[2] The Roughriders Football Club and the city of Regina have hosted the Grey Cup three times, including a Roughrider win in the 101st Grey Cup.[3] In July of 2012, the Province of Saskatchewan announced that the Roughriders will have a new stadium completed in time for the 2017 season.

Team facts[edit]

Formerly known as: Regina Rugby Club 1910 to 1923, Regina Roughriders 1924 to 1947
Helmet design: Green helmet with a black and white "S" and stalks of wheat on each side with a black background.
Retro helmet design: Green helmet with logo of a green wreath surrounding a green S on a white background
Uniform colours: Green and white, with black accents
Nickname: Riders, the green and white
Western first place regular season finishes: 7—1951, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1976, 2009
Grey Cup final appearances: 19;—1923 (lost), 1928 (lost), 1929 (lost), 1930 (lost), 1931 (lost), 1932 (lost), 1934 (lost), 1951 (lost), 1966 (won), 1967 (lost), 1969 (lost), 1972 (lost), 1976 (lost), 1989 (won), 1997 (lost), 2007 (won), 2009 (lost). 2010 (lost), 2013 (won)
Grey Cup wins: 4—1966, 1989, 2007, 2013
Hosted the Grey Cup three times: 1995 (83rd Grey Cup), 2003 (91st Grey Cup), 2013 (101st Grey Cup)
Main rivals: Winnipeg Blue Bombers (see Labour Day Classic and Banjo Bowl), Edmonton Eskimos, Calgary Stampeders.
2014 regular season record: 10 wins, 8 losses. 20 points

Franchise history[edit]

Club origins and the early years[edit]

The team was founded as the Regina Rugby Club on Tuesday, September 13, 1910, adopting the colours of old gold and purple.[4] They played their home games at Park Hughes on 10th Avenue in Regina's north central section, where they remain based to this day. The team was also a founding member of the Saskatchewan Rugby Football Union as it was organized on September 22 of that year. Regina played their first game against the Moose Jaw Tigers on October 1, 1910, at the Moose Jaw Baseball Grounds where they were defeated 16–6. For the 1911 season, the team changed their colours to blue and white to match the Regina Amateur Athletic Association and won their first SRFU championship, but lost in the first season of the Western Canada Rugby Football Union playoffs.[5]

The Regina Rugby Club changed their colours again in 1912 to red and black and began an era of western football dominance.[4] For every season of play in the SRFU, Regina would win the league championship, exerting their prowess over teams from Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, and any other clubs in Saskatchewan. Beginning in the 1912 season, Regina would go on to win seven straight WCRFU titles, excluding 1917 and 1918 when World War I interrupted league play. In 1921, the western champion was invited to compete for the Grey Cup national championship, but it was also the first time since 1911 that the Regina Rugby Club didn't win the West Championship as the Edmonton Eskimos traveled east to play in the 9th Grey Cup.[6]

In 1923, Regina returned to power as they won their eighth western championship over the Winnipeg Victorias and earned the right to compete in the national playoffs. The club was given a bye and advanced straight to the Grey Cup finals for the first time, but were severely outmatched, losing 54–0 to Queen's University at Varsity Stadium in Toronto.[6] This was, and still is, the most lopsided defeat in Grey Cup history as the defending champion Queen's won their third straight national championship at the expense of the Regina Rugby Club.[7]

The Regina Roughriders[edit]

Following their first Grey Cup loss, the club changed their name to the Regina Roughriders in 1924 while retaining the colours of red and black.[6] Ottawa also had a team called the Ottawa Rough Riders, but the spelling was different and the two clubs played in different leagues. The origin of the name has multiple theories, one of which describes how the North-West Mounted Police were called Roughriders because they broke the wild horse broncos that were used by the force and the moniker was adopted from them.[8] Another states that the name was adopted from Theodore Roosevelt's cavalry contingent that was known as the Rough Riders, who fought in the Spanish–American War. It was believed that there were Canadian troops in the contingent that returned to Canada following the war and moved out west.[5]

During the first two years of their name change, the Roughriders failed to reclaim their western championship title, losing both times to clubs from Winnipeg.[9][10] The 1926 season marked the beginning of their next reign of dominance as the club matched their own WCRFU record with seven consecutive western championships from 1926 to 1932. With dominant players such as Canadian Football Hall of Famer Eddie James, the Roughriders were a perennial contender from the West, reaching the Grey Cup finals five consecutive years from 1928 to 1932, the second-longest streak in the championship's history.[5] Unfortunately, Regina remained winless in the national championship, being outscored 102–15 in those Grey Cup games. The Roughriders won their last WCRFU title in 1934, representing the west for the seventh time in the 22nd Grey Cup, but lost to the Sarnia Imperials in that club's first Grey Cup win.[11]

Western Interprovincial Football Union[edit]

In 1936, Regina joined the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Calgary Bronks as the founding franchises of the Western Interprovincial Football Union, the highest level of Canadian football play in Western Canada. Also in 1936, a permanent grandstand was built at Park Hughes and Park de Young--what is now Taylor Field. The Roughriders would become the first WIFU champions after they defeated the Blue Bombers and Bronks in the West Semi-Finals and West Finals respectively. However, due to a rules dispute with the Canadian Rugby Union over use of their five import players from the United States, Regina was barred from competing for the 24th Grey Cup.[12] Winnipeg had won the Grey Cup championship one year earlier with seven imports and the move to prevent Regina from competing was seen as a reaction to the previous year's western win. While the Roughriders had planned on traveling east without the five ineligible players, the CRU remained steadfast in their decision to disallow the team from competition.[12][13]

The next decade in the WIFU would not be as successful as the first as the team would not win another Western Final as the Regina Roughriders, nor ever finish in first place in that time span. After qualifying for the playoffs in three of their next five seasons, play from 1942 to 1944 was interrupted due the World War II. While there was no regular season in 1945, the Roughriders did play the newly named Calgary Stampeders in the West Semi-Finals, but lost the series two games to none.[14]

The Saskatchewan Roughriders[edit]

With the folding of both clubs in Moose Jaw and Saskatoon, the Regina Roughriders became a provincially community-owned club, and, consequently, changed their name to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1946.[14] It is the first recorded instance of a major-league team in North America branding itself as a statewide or provincewide team. Prior to the 1948 season, the Roughriders were in need of new uniforms as their red and black ones had become old and worn out. While visiting a surplus store in Chicago, executive member Jack Fyffe found a set of green and white uniforms and purchased them for the Roughriders, which have remained as the team's primary colours to this day.[5] The name change was made official on April 1, 1950.[15][16]

After three years of first-round playoff exits, the Roughriders finally returned to prominence in 1951, winning their first WIFU regular season championship with an 8–6 record. Saskatchewan, led by quarterback Glenn Dobbs, defeated the Edmonton Eskimos in the West Final and advanced to the Grey Cup for the first time since 1934. In this game, they faced the Ottawa Rough Riders for the first time, marking the first Roughriders versus Rough Riders championship game in Canadian football history. Unfortunately, Saskatchewan could not win their first championship as they were defeated by Ottawa 21–14 in the 39th Grey Cup.[17]

Saskatchewan contended on and off in the 1950s, with four consecutive winning seasons and second-place regular season finishes from 1953 to 1956. Teams from this era featured standouts such as Frank Tripucka, Reggie Whitehouse, Ken Carpenter, Mike Cassidy, player-coach Frank Filchock and Cookie Gilchrist who was the first Roughrider player to rush for 1,000 yards in 1958. Even with that talent, they couldn't return to the Grey Cup as clubs fielded by either the Edmonton Eskimos and Winnipeg Blue Bombers would end their season in each of these years. Their strongest season was in 1956 when the Roughriders recorded a 10–6 record and won their first playoff series since 1951, only to lose to the Eskimos in the Western Finals.

Following their 1956 campaign, tragedy struck the Roughriders franchise when four members of the team were killed in a plane crash on December 9, 1956, while returning from the CFL All-Star Game in Vancouver. Gordon Sturtridge, Mel Becket, Ray Syrnyk, and Mario DeMarco were killed when Flight 810 crashed into Slesse Mountain near Chilliwack, British Columbia. The team retired the numbers of the four players shortly after the tragedy.[18] The following season, the Roughriders finished with seven fewer wins and a last place finish in the WIFU.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders became charter members of the Canadian Football League in 1958, as the team finished with a respectable 7–7–2 record and a third place finish.[16] However, the following season proved to be the worst in franchise history, as the team finished with just one win and 15 losses, the third-worst winning percentage in CFL history.[19] The years ahead would feature similar results, as the Roughriders would miss the playoffs for three consecutive seasons, their worst such streak since joining the WIFU in 1936.

The Ronnie and George show[edit]

George Reed is the club's all-time leading rusher.

Following a 1962 season that saw the Roughriders return to the playoffs, the team made roster moves that would define a generation of football in Saskatchewan. In the off-season, the Roughriders signed fullback George Reed from Washington State to replace Fred Burket, who had been traded to the Alouettes.[20] Then, prior to their season opening game of the 1963 season, Saskatchewan acquired Ottawa Rough Riders quarterback Ron Lancaster on July 30 on a straight cash basis following three years with the Eastern Riders.[21][22] The duo would contribute to a productive season for Saskatchewan as they finished with a 7–7–2 record and won a playoff series for the first time since 1956 before losing their first playoff match-up with the BC Lions. The Roughriders would continue to make progress in the next two seasons, posting back-to-back winning records, but lost in the West Semi-Finals in both years.

1966 Grey Cup champions[edit]

Led by second-year head coach Eagle Keys, the Roughriders would finally break through and capture the Western Conference regular season title in the 1966 season, the first time they had accomplished that feat since 1951. Ron Lancaster won the Jeff Nicklin Memorial Trophy as the Western Conference's most outstanding player while George Reed, receiver Hugh Campbell and four other Riders were named league all-stars, the most from any team that year. Saskatchewan swept Winnipeg in the West Finals, winning two games to no losses, and qualified for the ninth Grey Cup final in franchise history. In the 54th Grey Cup, Saskatchewan once again faced the Ottawa Rough Riders in a rematch of the 1951 championship game. After the score was tied 14–14 at halftime, Saskatchewan scored 15 fourth-quarter points to win the franchise's first Grey Cup championship 29–14 on November 26, 1966.[23][24] Saskatchewan was the last of the original nine CFL franchises to win the Grey Cup, doing so in Vancouver at Empire Stadium.

The Roughriders began the 1967 season as defending champions for the first time in franchise history. They finished in second place in the West with a franchise-best 12–4 record and advanced to Grey Cup final once again, but lost to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 24–1.[25] After an early playoff exit in 1968, the Roughriders finished in first place in 1969 and defeated the Stampeders to qualify for another Grey Cup. In the rubber match against the Ottawa Rough Riders, Saskatchewan fell 29–11 in their third Grey Cup game in four years. The Roughriders won a franchise-best 14 games in 1970, a record that stands to this day, but were upset in the West Finals by the Stampeders. Eagle Keys resigned during the following off-season, ending his career as the all-time leader in wins by a Saskatchewan Roughrider head coach with 68 wins and four first place finishes.[26]

Dave Skrien was hired as the next head coach of the Roughriders and would continue their winning ways, namely with an appearance in the 1972 Grey Cup which yielded another Saskatchewan loss to Hamilton.[27] Following that loss were three consecutive second place finishes and West Final losses to the Edmonton Eskimos, ending with George Reed retiring after the 1975 season as the all-time leading rusher in all of professional football with 16,116 rushing yards. In 1976, the Roughriders recaptured first place in the West Division and defeated the Eskimos in the West Final, advancing to the Grey Cup to once again play the Ottawa Rough Riders. The Roughriders allowed a last-minute touchdown catch by Ottawa tight end Tony Gabriel to lose their fourth Grey Cup in ten years, ending one of the most bittersweet eras in Roughrider history.[28] Saskatchewan qualified for the playoffs for 15 consecutive seasons, tied for fourth-best in CFL history, and played in 11 consecutive Division Finals, which is a CFL record. They also posted the best regular season record in all of professional football over that time period, but only won one championship during that time.[29]

Decline and drought[edit]

After their loss in the 1976 Grey Cup game to the Ottawa Rough Riders, Saskatchewan fell into a period of decline that was unprecedented in the CFL. They posted an 8-8 record in 1977, but finished in fourth place. It would be the start of an 11-year playoff drought, the longest in CFL history. The Roughriders had several talented players during this era, like Joey Walters at receiver, Vince Goldsmith at defensive end, offensive lineman Roger Aldag from Gull Lake and Dave Ridgway, who became one of the greatest kickers in CFL history. However, in an era where the West was dominated by Edmonton, Winnipeg and (in the mid-1980s) BC, the Roughriders often found themselves in a losing battle for the last playoff spot.

Franchise quarterback Ron Lancaster retired after the 1978 season as the CFL's all time passing leader in passing yards, completions and touchdown passes.[30] Furthermore, he is the only Roughrider to win the CFL's Most Outstanding Player Award twice while playing with Saskatchewan. Playing without Lancaster behind center for the first time in 16 seasons proved difficult as the team would post back-to-back 2–14 seasons in 1979 and 1980. Ironically, the head coach of those squads was none other than Lancaster himself. The Riders' only winning record during this time came in 1981 when they finished with a 9–7 record under Joe Faragalli, but it was only good enough for fourth place in a competitive West Division - the "crossover rule" had not yet been implemented - therefore, as in 1977, the Riders were denied a playoff spot despite the third place Eastern team having a worse record. During the following six seasons, the Roughriders would never earn more than six wins in a season, leaving them soundly out of the playoff picture. In 1985, the Roughriders introduced a new logo as part of the 75th anniversary of the inception of the team, adding black and silver to the team's colour scheme.[5]

Roughriders helmet

Return to the playoffs[edit]

The Roughriders finally ended their 11-year playoff drought in 1988 when they tied for first in the West along with Edmonton finishing with identical records of 11–7. However, the Roughriders were relegated to second place after being swept by the Eskimos in the regular season. The Roughriders also hosted a playoff game for the first time since 1976, but lost to the BC Lions in the Western Semi-Final by a score of 42–18. Nonetheless, it was a step in the right direction as the Roughriders learned how to win and gained valuable playoff experience that they would need during the following season.

1989 Grey Cup champions[edit]

The Roughriders finished with a 9–9 record and a third place finish in the 1989 season, but still qualified for the playoffs for a second consecutive season. After defeating the Calgary Stampeders in the West Semi-Finals, Saskatchewan faced the powerhouse Edmonton Eskimos in the West Final, a team that had set (and still holds) a CFL record with 16 regular season wins in one season. The Roughriders defeated the heavily favoured Eskimos 32–21 to advance to the Grey Cup where they would face the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for the third time in franchise history. With a talented roster that included Kent Austin at quarterback, receivers Ray Elgaard, Donald Narcisse, Jeff Fairholm and James "Duke" Ellingson, and an outstanding offensive line featuring Roger Aldag, Vic Stevenson, Dan Payne and Bob Poley, the game featured extensive offensive prowess. With the score tied 40–40, placekicker Dave Ridgway kicked a 35-yard game-winning field goal to win the 77th Grey Cup for the Roughriders, with a play that has become simply known as "The Kick."[31] It was the second championship for the franchise, following a 23-year drought.

Saskatchewan would qualify for the playoffs in four of the next five seasons, including two seasons with winning records, but would lose in the West Semi-Final each time to either the Calgary Stampeders or Edmonton Eskimos. In 1995, Regina hosted the Grey Cup for the first time in league history, giving the Roughriders an opportunity to compete for the championship at home. Unfortunately, the Roughriders finished in sixth place in the newly named North Division, as part of the CFL's American expansion, and did not qualify for the playoffs.[32]

The Roughriders wouldn't qualify again for the playoffs until 1997 with a losing record, the first time they had done so since 1948. The team made the most of their opportunity as they defeated the Stampeders and Eskimos in the West Semi-Final and West Final, respectively, to advance to the 85th Grey Cup. Unfortunately, the upstart Roughriders fell to the Doug Flutie-led Toronto Argonauts 47–23 in the first ever Grey Cup match up between the two remaining oldest franchises in the league.[5][33] The Roughriders would close out the 20th century with two more losing seasons, failing to qualify in the playoffs in both 1998 and 1999.

Roy Shivers and Danny Barrett[edit]

Following the 1999 season, Roy Shivers, the former Director of Player Personnel for the Calgary Stampeders, assumed the duties of general manager of the Roughriders.[34][35] Shivers then hired Danny Barrett as the team's head coach despite the latter's limited coaching experience. The Roughriders made football history by being the first professional team with a black general manager and head coach.

In what was described as a rebuilding process, the Roughriders began the Shivers and Barrett era with two consecutive last place finishes in 2000 and 2001, missing the playoffs in both years. In 2002, progress was being made as Saskatchewan made the playoffs for the first time since their 1997 Grey Cup run with an 8–10 record and a fourth place finish. The team played in the East Semi-Final due to the crossover rule, playing in the eastern playoffs for the first time in their 90-year history, losing to their last playoff opponent, the Toronto Argonauts. The 2003 season saw the Roughriders earn their first winning record since 1994, finishing 11–7 and in third place, building optimism in a year where the franchise was hosting their second ever Grey Cup game. While the team played their longtime rival, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, in the playoffs for the first time since 1975 and won, they lost the West Final to the eventual champion Edmonton Eskimos, missing a close chance to play in the Grey Cup at home.

After their strong 2003 campaign, the Roughriders were expected to build upon that success in 2004. While the team regressed slightly with a 9–9 record, they won the West Semi-Final over the Eskimos and advanced to the West Final for the second consecutive year to face the BC Lions. After Saskatchewan scored a late touchdown to take the lead, BC tied the game with a late field goal, sending the game to overtime. Saskatchewan placekicker Paul McCallum missed an 18-yard field goal while BC kicker Duncan O'Mahoney hit a 40-yarder to win the game for the Lions, adding to the frustration of the Roughrider fanbase.[36]

Prior to the 2005 season, quarterback Henry Burris signed as a free agent with Calgary, leaving the Roughriders with a smaller chance at progress. The team finished in fourth place with a 9–9 record and crossed over to the Eastern playoffs again, only to be defeated by the Montreal Alouettes in the first ever post-season meeting with that team. Feeling a greater need for progress, the pressure was on the Roughriders to perform in 2006 season. After Saskatchewan had started the season with a 4–5 record, general manager Roy Shivers was fired on August 21, 2006.[35] The Roughriders then hired Eric Tillman to take over and he elected not to renew Danny Barrett's contract at the end of the season following a third consecutive 9–9 season and a West Final loss to the Lions.[37] While they did not win any championships, Shivers and Barrett had restored a measure of respectability for the franchise and had set the stage for things to come.

The Roughriders celebrate their 2007 Grey Cup victory

The Ken Miller era[edit]

2007 Grey Cup champions[edit]

After contending on and off in the early part of the 21st century, the Roughriders hired 1989 Grey Cup hero Kent Austin as head coach and Ken Miller as offensive coordinator in the 2007 season. Despite a rookie head coach, the team jumped out to a 7–2 start, which was their best start since 1976. They finished the season with a 12–6 record and brought along with it the Roughriders' first home playoff game since 1988, which became a 26–24 victory over the Calgary Stampeders. This was also their first home playoff win since 1976. The team then followed up with a 26–17 win at BC Place over the BC Lions in the West Division final to give the Roughriders a berth in their first Grey Cup final since 1997.

On November 25, 2007, the Riders played the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the 95th Grey Cup, marking the first time that the two Labour Day Classic opponents played each other in a Grey Cup game. Saskatchewan won 23–19 in a game where James Johnson recorded a Grey Cup record three interceptions en route to being named Most Valuable Player of the 2007 Grey Cup. Fellow Roughrider Andy Fantuz was named the Canadian MVP in the game after recording 70 yards receiving and the game-winning touchdown.

A month and a half after capturing the 2007 Grey Cup, Austin stepped down as head coach to become the offensive co-ordinator at the University of Mississippi.[38] In accepting this position in the NCAA, Austin turned down a very lucrative contract that the Riders had offered to return to his alma mater. On February 6, 2008, Roughriders GM Eric Tillman announced that the new head coach would be Ken Miller.[39] Miller was formerly the offensive coordinator under Austin. The team also traded former league MVP Kerry Joseph to the Toronto Argonauts, leaving the team without their Grey Cup-winning head coach and starting quarterback.

The 2008 season began with a 6–0 record with wins shared between three quarterbacks, including the season opening starter, Marcus Crandell. This was the team's best record since 1934 when they were still known as the Regina Roughriders. On August 24, 2008, the team's General Manager, Eric Tillman, announced the acquisition of Quarterback Michael Bishop, the Toronto Argonauts backup quarterback at the time of the trade, who went 11–1 as a starter for the Argonauts in 2007. This was the end of Marcus Crandell's run with the Roughriders, as he was released four days later. After the 6–0 start, the Riders would go on to finish the 2008 CFL Regular season with the same record they finished with in 2007, at 12–6. The Roughriders finished in second place in the CFL West Division and earned the right to host the CFL West Division Semi-Final for the second consecutive year. The Roughriders suffered a devastating 33–12 loss to the BC Lions in the western semi-final game, leading to Bishop's release shortly after the loss.

In 2009, the Roughriders were led by quarterback Darian Durant, who had seen his first significant playing time in 2008 and was named the opening day starter. Durant started all 18 games for Saskatchewan and led the team to a 10–7–1 record and their first West Division regular season title since 1976.[40] After defeating the Calgary Stampeders in the West Final, the team advanced to the 97th Grey Cup to face the Montreal Alouettes. After leading 27–11 in the fourth quarter, Montreal stormed back to make the score 27–25 late in the fourth. Montreal kicker Damon Duval attempted a 43-yard field goal and missed, but Saskatchewan had been called for a too-many-men penalty, advancing the placement 10 yards. Duval did not miss a second time, scoring the three points to win the game 28–27 for the Alouettes and adding to the Roughriders' championship woes.[41]

The Roughriders celebrated their 100-year anniversary as a football club during the 2010 season, wearing retro-themed red and black uniforms based on the ones worn by the Regina Roughriders. The Roughriders finished second in the West with a 10–8 record and defeated the BC Lions in double overtime in the West Division Semi-Final.[42] After defeating the Stampeders in the West Final for the second year in a row, the Roughriders faced the Alouettes in the 98th Grey Cup once again. Despite leading 11–8 at the half, the Roughriders faced a ten-point deficit in the fourth quarter. The lead proved insurmountable, as Saskatchewan lost the game to Montreal for the second consecutive year by a score 21–18.[43]

Following the Grey Cup loss, head coach Ken Miller resigned and became Vice President of Football operations. The club hired Greg Marshall as his replacement, but the 2011 season was one to forget, as the Roughriders finished last in the West with a 5–13 record and missed the playoffs. The Roughriders fired Marshall after a 1–7 start and had Miller step in as his replacement. The season was plagued by errors and mishaps, most of them self-inflicted as the team could not dig itself out of their early season hole. 2011 would prove to be Ken Miller's last season with the Roughriders, as he retired shortly after the 2011 season.[44]

A new beginning[edit]

Corey Chamblin, who formerly served as the defensive coordinator for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, was named the new head coach of the Roughriders on December 16, 2011.[45] The Roughriders signed two of the top Canadian players available in free agency in non-import offensive linemen Brendon LaBatte and Dominic Picard.[46] However, they were not so fortunate with all-star linebacker Jerrell Freeman, who led the league in tackles in 2011 and departed for the NFL. The Roughriders also lost outstanding Canadian slotback Andy Fantuz, who led the league in receiving yards in 2010, as he signed as a free agent with Hamilton. Nonetheless, the team qualified for the playoffs after missing out during the previous season. In 2012, Saskatchewan lost the Western Division Semi-Final game to the Calgary Stampeders in a close game, 36–30.

On January 24, 2013, the Riders traded Justin Harper and a 4th round 2014 pick to the BC Lions for six-time all-star Geroy Simon. Simon holds the record for most career receiving yards. Simon played for the Lions from 2001 to 2012. The 2013 season started off spectacularly for the Roughriders, mainly for Darian Durant and Kory Sheets. The Roughriders went 8–1 in the first nine games and set a record for the best start in franchise history (their previous best was 7–1 during the 1970 season). Running back Kory Sheets had the best start for a running back in CFL history and Darian Durant had thrown only one interception while throwing 21 touchdowns.

The 2013 season ended with an 11–7 record, for 2nd in the West Division, behind Calgary. The team hosted its first playoff game since 2010 on November 10th, the West Semi Finals against the BC Lions. The Roughriders would win the game, 29–25, the first playoff win of Corey Chamblin's CFL head coaching career and the first since 2010 for the Roughriders. On Sunday, November 17th 2013, the Roughriders successfully defeated the Calgary Stampeders in the Western Finals, the score being 35–13. This allowed the Saskatchewan Roughriders to advance to the 101st Grey Cup. It was the first time in Saskatchewan Roughriders history that they were part of the Grey Cup in their own hometown. The Roughriders would go on to defeat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, 45–23, with RB Kory Sheets winning the Grey Cup Most Valuable Player Award after rushing for a franchise and Grey Cup record 197 yards to be the third consecutive team to win the championship at their home field.


The current official Rider mascot is Gainer the Gopher, who made his first appearance in 1977.[47] "Gainer" is an anagram of Regina and the gopher, or more properly, Richardson's Ground Squirrel (not a Gopher) is a common animal on the Canadian Prairies.


Fan support[edit]

Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field prior to a CFL match

Rider fans have been referred to as the best fans in the league and were ranked the rowdiest fans of any sports team in Canada by MSN Sports, ranking ahead of the Canada men's national junior ice hockey team and the Montreal Canadiens.[48] The team is third behind the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs for merchandise sales of Canadian sports teams,[49] and in 2009 the team played in 5 of the 6 most viewed games on television[citation needed] as well as breaking a ratings record for the West Final against the Calgary Stampeders and a Grey Cup ratings record of 43% of the national population against the Montreal Alouettes.[citation needed] The Riders typically bring an upsurge in attendance at all or most of their various away venues, drawing crowds of their own fans, as well as home-town fans whose interest is heightened when the Roughriders come to town.[50] The province of Saskatchewan went through tough economic times during the 1980s and 1990s and as a result thousands of Rider fans left the province for work, particularly to Alberta. In Edmonton and especially Calgary, Rider fans make up to half the crowd, and many violent clashes have resulted in recent years between Roughrider and Stampeder fans.[51][52] The Riders have led road attendance in the CFL every year this decade,.[53] and local support has skyrocketed in recent years due to the on-field success of the club, including the first sold-out season in 2008.[54] The Roughriders attendance record came in 1995 in a win over the Calgary Stampeders as 55,438 (more than 25% of Regina's population) fans watched on.[55] This crowd was attainable that year because of the increased capacity of Taylor Field in preparation of hosting the Grey Cup. Rider fans are also known for dressing up in unique and often bizarre Rider-themed costumes, the most popular being the watermelon helmet.[citation needed]

University Section[edit]

The University Section is a notorious group of season ticket holders who occupy Section 28 in the East Side bleachers at Taylor Field. They are known for their strict allegiance to the Riders,[citation needed] standing through the entire game, and often being merciless to opposing fans who sit in the section and cheer for the road team. They enjoy taunting the opposing team's bench with a series of chanting and slandering. The University Section got its nickname from the section's main purpose in the 1980s and 1990s and was a discount section offered to university students in Saskatchewan. The section no longer serves as a university section but still retains the name because of the rowdy behaviour of the fans.[56]

Fight and theme songs[edit]

Gainer the Gopher

The Roughriders are unique among sports teams for the amount of songs written about them.[citation needed] The official Rider songs are played regularly at the stadium, and include "Rider Pride", and "Paint the Whole World Green."[57] Among several 'borrowed songs' is the team's touchdown song and victory march, "Green is the Colour"(edited copy of the original "Blue is the Colour" written by D Boone and R McQueen for the Chelsea Football Club) and "On Roughriders" (edited from On Wisconsin, the fight song for the Wisconsin Badgers). In addition, during every fourth quarter intermission, the P.A. system plays the cult hit "The Last Saskatchewan Pirate" by The Arrogant Worms, and the Riders Cheer Team leads the crowd in a fourth quarter stretch. There are many other songs that have been created over the years to tribute the team as well. Many of these songs have proved so popular in Western Canada that they have become popular culture phenomena.Template:Itation needed[58] The music selection at Mosaic Stadium is mostly consisted of mainstream popular music. "Green is the Colour" is played after every rider touchdown, followed by Gainer the Gopher being driven around the stadium's track and giving high fives to those in the first row.

Radio and television[edit]

The Co-operators Roughrider Football Network comprises the radio stations CKRM in Regina, CJWW in Saskatoon and CJGX in Yorkton. Rod Pedersen is the play-by-play announcer, and game broadcasts are available throughout much of Saskatchewan via the Roughrider Football Network. Worldwide the games are available on the Internet through the Roughrider mobile app, through CKRM, CJWW and CJGX websites and through the TuneIn app and website.

Sirius Satellite Radio also enjoys an exclusive deal with the CFL, including the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and all games are available on Sirius.[59] On television in Canada, all Roughrider games are broadcast nationally in English on TSN and select games are available in French on RDS. Outside of Canada, some of the team's games can be viewed in the United States on NFL Network and on the Internet via ESPN3.

Public company[edit]

The Roughriders are one of only a few publicly owned professional sports companies in North America, complete with a board of directors. The Roughriders' public ownership model is similar to the Green Bay Packers where a limited number of shares have been sold to the public. It is not possible to resell these shares, no dividend payment is possible and no person may hold more than 20 voting shares. A recent public offering of Rider Shares—Series 1—commenced in 2004 at an offering price of $250 per share[60] In 2006 the Ottawa Sun reported that the Roughriders had sold around 3,000 at $250 each.[61] The Series 1 offering closed in 2008 after all 6,000 shares were sold. A second public offering, Series 2, was launched in 2010 in honour of the team's 100th anniversary.[62]

Current roster[edit]

Saskatchewan Roughriders roster

Running Backs


Offensive Linemen

Defensive Linemen


Defensive Backs

Special Teams

Unsigned Free Agents

Italics indicate International player
Roster updated 2015-02-19
Depth ChartTransactions
60 Active, 7 Unsigned FAs

More rosters

Current coaches and directors[edit]

Saskatchewan Roughriders Staff
Front Office
  • President and CEO – Craig Reynolds
  • General Manager and VP of Football Operations – Brendan Taman
  • Assistant General Manager and Director of Football Operations – Jeremy O'Day
  • Director of Player Personnel and Canadian Scouting – Craig Smith
  • U.S. Scout – Ron Selesky
  • Manager of Media Relations & Football Communications – Ryan Pollock
  • Director of Athletic Therapy – Ivan Gutfriend
  • Manager of Equipment – Gordon Gilroy
  • Manager of Football Research and Development – Chad Hudson
  • Manager of Football Administration – Aaron Thompson

Head Coaches

Offensive Coaches


Defensive Coaches

Special Teams Coaches

Strength and Conditioning

Coaching Staff
More CFL staffs

Players of note[edit]

Retired numbers[63][edit]

23 Ron Lancaster
34 George Reed
36 Dave Ridgway
40 Mel Becket
44 Roger Aldag
55 Mario DeMarco
56 Ray Syrnyk
73 Gordon Sturtridge

Canadian Football Hall of Famers[edit]

Recent regular season and playoff results[edit]

Season-by-season records[edit]

The 1990s[edit]

F = For, A = Against

Season Coach Won Lost Tied Points F A Home Away Division Standing Playoff Results
1990 John Gregory 9 9 0 18 557 592 7–2 2–7 4–6 3rd Lost West Semi-Final 43–27 to Edmonton
1991 Gregory/Matthews 6 12 0 12 606 987 4–5 2–7 3–7 4th Missed Playoffs
1992 Don Matthews 9 9 0 18 505 545 7–2 2–7 6–4 3rd Lost West Semi-Final 22–20 to Edmonton
1993 Don Matthews 11 7 0 22 511 495 7–2 4–5 5–5 3rd Lost West Semi-Final 51–13 to Edmonton
1994 Matthews/Jauch 11 7 0 22 512 454 7–2 4–5 4–6 4th Lost West Semi-Final 36–3 to Calgary
1995* Ray Jauch 6 12 0 12 422 451 4–5 2–7 5–7 6th* Missed Playoffs
1996 Jim Daley 5 13 0 10 360 498 4–5 1–8 3–7 4th Missed Playoffs
1997 Jim Daley 8 10 0 16 413 479 5–4 3–6 5–5 3rd Won West Semi-Final 33–30 over Calgary

Won West Final 31–30 over Edmonton

Lost Grey Cup 47–23 to Toronto

1998 Jim Daley 5 13 0 10 411 525 4–5 1–8 2–8 4th Missed Playoffs
1999 Cal Murphy 3 15 0 6 370 592 3–6 0–9 1–9 4th Missed Playoffs

* For the 1995 Season, all 8 Canadian teams were featured in the Northern Division.

The Danny Barrett era[edit]

Season Won Lost Tied Points* F A Home Away Division Standing Playoff Results
2000 5 12 1 11 516 626 2–6–1 3–6 3–6–1 4th Missed Playoffs
2001 6 12 0 12 308 416 2–7 4–5 3–7 4th Missed Playoffs
2002 8 10 0 18* 435 393 7–2 1–8 4–6 4th Crossover: Lost East Semi-Final 24–14 to Toronto
2003 11 7 0 22 535 430 7–2 4–5 7–3 3rd Won West Semi-Final 37–21 over Winnipeg

Lost West Final 30–23 to Edmonton

2004 9 9 0 18 476 444 6–3 3–6 4–6 3rd Won West Semi-Final 14–6 over Edmonton

Lost West Final 27–25 to B.C. in OT

2005 9 9 0 18 441 433 5–4 4–5 6–4 4th Crossover: Lost East Semi-Final 30–14 to Montreal
2006 9 9 0 18 465 434 6–3 3–6 4–6 3rd Won West Semi-Final 30–21 over Calgary

Lost West Final 45–18 to B.C.

Totals 57 68 1 117* 3176 3176 35–27–1 22–41 31–38–1

* From 2000 to 2002, the CFL awarded a single point to teams losing in overtime. The Riders had two such losses during the 2002 season.

The Ken Miller era[edit]

Season Coach Won Lost Tied Points F A Home Away Division Standing Playoff Results
2007 Kent Austin 12 6 0 24 530 434 6–3 6–3 6–4 2nd Won West Semi-Final 26–24 over Calgary

Won West Final 26–17 over B.C.

Won Grey Cup 23–19 over Winnipeg

2008 Ken Miller 12 6 0 24 500 471 7–2 5–4 5–5 2nd Lost West Semi-Final 33–12 to B.C.
2009 Ken Miller 10 7 1 21 514 484 6–3 4–4–1 5–4–1 1st Won West Final 27–17 over Calgary

Lost Grey Cup 28–27 to Montreal

2010 Ken Miller 10 8 0 20 497 488 7–2 3–6 5–5 2nd Won West Semi-Final 41–38 over BC

Won West Final 20–16 over Calgary

Lost Grey Cup 21–18 to Montreal

2011 Greg Marshall/
Ken Miller
5 13 0 10 326 459 3–6 2–7 0–10 4th Missed Playoffs

Corey Chamblin Era[edit]

Season Coach Won Lost Tied Points F A Home Away Division Standing Playoff Results
2012 Corey Chamblin 8 10 0 16 457 409 5–4 3–6 4–6 3rd Lost West Semi-Final 36–30 to Calgary
2013 Corey Chamblin 11 7 0 22 519 398 6–3 5–4 6–4 2nd Won West Semi-Final 29–25 over BC

Won West Final 35–13 over Calgary

Won Grey Cup 45–23 over Hamilton

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rider Nation receives Commissioner's Award
  2. ^ Wagner, Courtney (2009-06-01). "Labour Day Classic sold out and Round 4 final predictions". Regina Leader-Post. 
  3. ^ 101st Grey Cup awarded to Saskatchewan
  4. ^ a b CFL History: Timeline 1910s
  5. ^ a b c d e f History of the Saskatchewan Roughriders
  6. ^ a b c CFL History: Timeline 1920s
  7. ^ Grey Cup Records
  8. ^
  9. ^ cflapedia: 1924
  10. ^ cflapedia: 1925
  11. ^ Grey Cup 1934
  12. ^ a b The Leader-Post - Dec 2, 1936
  13. ^ cflapedia: 1936
  14. ^ a b CFL History: Timeline 1940s
  15. ^ 2009 Canadian Football League Facts, Figures & Records, Canadian Football League Properties/Publications, Toronto, Ontario, ISBN 978-0-9739425-4-5, p.282–283
  16. ^ a b CFL History: Timeline 1950s
  17. ^ Grey Cup 1951
  18. ^ Beitel, Stu (2008-04-04). "Mount Slesse, BC Plane Crashes Into Mountains, Dec 1956". 
  19. ^ Canadian Football League - All-Time Records
  20. ^ The Calgary Herald - Aug 5, 1963
  21. ^ The Montreal Gazette - Jul 31, 1963
  22. ^ Ottawa Citizen - Jul 30, 1963
  23. ^ The Montreal Gazette - Nov 28, 1966
  24. ^ Grey Cup 1966
  25. ^ Grey Cup 1967
  26. ^ All-Time Leaders in Saskatchewan Roughrider History
  27. ^ Grey Cup 1972
  28. ^ Grey Cup 1976
  29. ^ "Riders have surprise in store with uniforms". Saskatoon StarPhoenix/CanWest News Service. 2008-04-21. 
  30. ^ "Ron Lancaster". Front Office Team. Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Archived from the original on September 18, 2008. Retrieved April 3, 2012. 
  31. ^ Grey Cup 1989
  32. ^ CFL History: Timeline 1990s
  33. ^ Grey Cup 1997
  34. ^ Roy Shivers BC Lions bio
  35. ^ a b Roughriders, Shivers part ways
  36. ^ CFL playoff history: Lions-Roughriders
  37. ^ Danny Barrett era ends in Saskatchewan
  38. ^ Kent Austin leaving Roughriders
  39. ^ Miller named Roughriders head coach
  40. ^ How the West was won: Riders finish 1st
  41. ^ Als storm back to win 97th Grey Cup
  42. ^ Riders work overtime, advance to Western Final
  43. ^ Twice is nice: Als repeat as Grey Cup champs
  44. ^ Ken Miller Calls it a Career
  45. ^ The new head coach has arrived
  46. ^ [1]
  47. ^ "Gainer the Gopher". Saskatchewan Roughriders. Retrieved 2010-02-09. 
  48. ^ "Saskatchewan Roughriders — Canada's rowdiest sports fans". MSN Sports. Retrieved 2010-02-09. 
  49. ^ Proudfoot, Shannon (2009-11-27). "Celebrating Canada's Team". The Vancouver Sun. 
  50. ^ "Eskimos set new attendance record". 
  51. ^ Pedersen, Rod (July 29, 2008). "Warning to Rowdy Rider Fans". 
  52. ^ Stamps prepare for sea of green Globe and Mail 22 July 2010
  53. ^ Busby, Ian (2009-10-20). "Rider pride sea to sea, Roughies fans fill CFL stadiums". The Calgary Sun. 
  54. ^ "Riders announce profit, Hopson contract extension". 
  55. ^
  56. ^ Hamelin, Johnathan (2009-11-11). "Rider Report: Living the Saskatchewan Roughrider Experience". Bleacher Report. 
  57. ^ "Audio". 
  58. ^ "Rider Music Search". 
  59. ^ "CFL gets Sirius, Official Satellite Radio Partner to broadcast 25 games annually". 2006-04-26. 
  60. ^ "Series 1 Rider Shares — Down To Last 25". October 29, 2008. 
  61. ^
  62. ^
  63. ^ "TEAM HISTORY - Saskatchewan Roughriders". Retrieved 25 September 2014. 

External links[edit]