What is a Tar??

The age old question uttered many times by people in the Nova Scotia rugby community: What's a Tar?

“Jack Tar” or “Tar” is a traditional nickname for the sailors of the British Empire’s Royal Navy. The Tars ruled the ocean waves, known for their conquests that include defeating the Spanish Armada and preventing Napoleon’s naval raids on Trafalgar. They were a hearty bunch known for being unchallenged at sea during the time of the British Empire, helping Britain achieve presence on a worldwide scale. They served as the proud forebears of our own Canadian Navy and were the same sailors that brought the game of rugby to Canadian shores.

(c) HMS Excellent; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Though the term “Jack Tar” originally applied only to those men who worked the highest reaches of the rigging, over time it referred to all deep-water sailors. These sailors used tarpaulin, a canvas permeated with tar, to cover and seal deck hatches to protect cargo. Tarpaulin was also used to make windproof clothes for these men facing near constant wind and rain storms. Sailors also slathered tar on the rigging to protect it from the elements and even on their long hair to prevent it from getting caught in rigging. The large square collar, or bib, you see on sailor suits protected the sailors’ uniforms from the tar in their hair. The Tars RFC club colors of white, blue and black are synonymous with the white uniforms that Tars wore, their blue collars and the black tar often found staining their otherwise neat appearance.

The Tar was often known for their easy going character in times both good and bad. They loved a laugh and were the life of the party, known for their affinity for all types of drink, when not assuming their roles as consummate professionals. Rank, gender, race or creed did not matter to the Tar, he would take the piss out of anyone, including themselves. Much like the modern day Tars of the Tars RFC, these sailors were as persistent achieving their aspirations as they were rambunctious while celebrating their successes.

The traditional Tar was not defined by their looks, status or successes; they were defined by their strong characters and unmatched resiliency. Used to long periods away from home and the near daily reminders of one’s mortality, they were known for their indomitable spirits and unmatched courage. Relevant to the game of rugby, they conveyed the requisite qualities we pride ourselves in embodying as the Tars Rugby Football Club. Our current and past members pride themselves in carrying the Tar namesake through the seas of life, wherever the winds may take us.

Once a Tar, Always a Tar.

Sine Mens, Sine Dolor.