Richie Hall has been a key member for both sides of the heated feud between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. On Sunday, he will return to Regina as the defensive coordinator of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, a role he has held since 2015.
On Tuesday’s edition of the SportsCage, Hall joined Michael Ball to give a perspective of both sides of the annual Labour Day Classic showdown between the Riders and Bombers.
Hall is very familiar with Riderville, as he suited up for the green and white as a player from 1988-1991 before moving on to a coaching career where he would he serve two stints with the Riders (1994-2008) (2011-2014).
The former defensive back knows the crowd at Mosaic Stadium can turn into a hostile atmosphere especially after spending time as a player and a coach with Saskatchewan.
“It’s interesting being on the other side because it’s a Roughrider fan crowd, they’re going to be loud, it’s just a whole different being on the other side, it’s just being such a natural high being on the Saskatchewan side.”
With Hall spending nearly three decades combined with the Roughriders and the Blue Bombers, the five time Grey Cup champion believes the heartbeat of the CFL resides in the prairies.
“I think it’s based on the strong grassroots levels of both provinces and just the enthusiasm and I guess just the tradition, the people who truly appreciate the CFL game, they’re very vocal about it and you see it in the attendance, they’re very knowledgeable of the game, they have a lot of pride and a a lot of heart, that’s what the CFL starts from, the heart starts from the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. ”
Being a defensive coordinator in the CFL has always been a difficult position with the high scoring nature of the game, Hall says that he has joked to Blue Bombers offensive coordinator, Buck Pierce that his goal every week is to hold the opposing team to under 50 points. Hall believes while the majority of fans of the gridiron prefer high scoring offensive football to low scoring defensive football, he thinks there should be room for recognition in the sport for the defensive side.
“If there are a lot of points scored, then it’s good football, if there aren’t a lot of points scored but there is good defensive football, then it’s still good football. On the defensive side you would like to get your share of consideration. ”
Heading into the Labour Day weekend, the Blue Bombers are on top of the CFL standings with a 10-1 record. Hall believes the Blue Bombers haven’t played their best football yet, but noted on the team’s ability to find a way to keep winning.
“I think that’s a showing of a good football team, the thing that these guys have done is they’re very resilient, they stick with it, they stick with the plan, they keep working, and keeping working, they know they have an opportunity at the end of the day, whether we make it, whether we come out victorious or not, we don’t know, but they continue to believe in each other to give themselves a chance, I think that’s something that’s been going on for a number of years. ”
After going nearly 30 years without winning a Grey Cup, Winnipeg has won back to back championships and are in a strong position to claim a third straight championship. Hall feels the current success of the Blue Bombers is based on the earlier struggles that the franchise experienced.
“We’re harvesting a lot of the results going back to 2017, 2018, they just learn, they learnt to win, and not being clichéish, but before you to learn to win, you have to learn how to lose, and they’ve learnt how to lose and now they are going out and making the plays, being clean, and not beating themselves through penalties. ”
Hall will once again will be on the blue and gold side for the annual Labour Day Classic on Sunday, as the Blue Bombers visit the Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium, you can listen to the game on 620 CKRM with an opening kickoff at 4:00.