SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. — Ray Turnbull admits he was a bit of a disciplinarian when it came to his boys and their sports growing up.
He once left them to walk home from hockey practice when they weren’t working hard enough for his liking — or so the story goes.
“And it was minus-30 outside,” Turnbull kidded.
But twins Reg and Allan, who are playing on Manitoba’s rugby team at the Canada Summer Games, say they wouldn’t have had it any other way.
“We used to call him The Warden,” Reg said, laughing. “He’s been a good dad, he’s led us the right way, we got our toughness from him, that’s for sure.”
“Oh yeah, he’s old-school, man,” Allan added. “He was born in ’39, he’s a discipline guy. I love it though, I wouldn’t be half the player I am without his modelling when I was younger.”
Turnbull, once one of Canada’s best curlers, is here cheering on his sons, despite having had two stents inserted into his heart less than a week ago. He wouldn’t have had it any other way.
“They’re good boys. They’re both good students and that’s the most encouraging thing,” Turnbull said. “I would think I was a fairly tough father, that’s for sure. But if you smother enough discipline with love, it works pretty well.”
Turnbull won the 1965 Brier as the lead for the Terry Braunstein rink, and the team went on to finish second to the United States at the world curling championships.
Turnbull, now a curling analyst for TSN, encouraged his boys to pursue a wide array of sports growing up. Curling, of course, was one of them.
“I made them curl,” said Turnbull. “They like it, but it wasn’t their forte. But I wanted them to learn the fundamentals so they could back to it and they did, they throw fairly well and they know the game.
“I would have liked them to have done more curling, but I wasn’t going to force them.”
The boys — whom Turnbull has been known to refer to on curling broadcasts as “In-turn” and “Out-turn,” curling terminology for the which way the rock spins — picked up their first curling rock at age five, and played until they were 16. They were forced to quit because they were juggling too many sports.
“We curled with our dad for a few years in the men’s league, and that was special,” Allan said. “We curled with my dad and Terry Braunstein, both former Canadian champions, it was pretty surreal.”
They both played baseball, double-A hockey and football, and their musculatures certainly suggest they’re more suited to hard-hitting sports. Allan is a power-packed six four four and 220 pounds, while Reg is slightly smaller. According to their mother, Jane, they were over seven pounds at birth — six weeks premature.
“Our dad always tells us, as long as you’ve got the speed and the legs and the knees and they’re not blown out, keep playing hockey, keep playing football, keep playing rugby,” Allan said. “Right now we just don’t have the time for (curling), but we’re going to go back to it.”
Allan, a linebacker, will play for the University of Manitoba Bisons football team this coming season, the first time one brother has played without the other after a lifetime of playing together. Allan plans to pursue law (Jane said she once had to buy Allan a subscription to Canadian Lawyer Magazine as a Christmas gift). Reg plans to take a year off to travel abroad.
“They don’t have any dreams of going on and being professionals, they just want to get their education and I said to them, these are the best years of their lives, 18 to 22 is when you make your friends, you play your sports,” Turnbull said. “They’re the most fun years of your life, so have a good time.”
The twins were happy just to have their dad in the stands at Three Oaks high school, despite their 20-5 loss to Saskatchewan in their opening game. It was the first time they had seen him since his heart procedure last week.
“It was a scare,” Allan said.
Saskatchewan stunned Manitoba with tries by Dustin Dubrovsky and Alex McKay in the opening minutes.
“It was a nine-minute mental lapse,” Reg Turnbull said. “That’s what happens, it only takes that amount of time, it’s a 40-minute game and we lost in that nine-minute passage. It happens.”
Added Allen: “We’re a better team than that, we’ve been waiting for this and it’s really disappointing how flat we came out. We thought we were going to come out a little harder than that, we just didn’t have the pace at the beginning.”
Tait Nystuen had two conversions and a penalty kick for Saskatchewan’s other points.
Matthew Lind scored the lone try for Manitoba.