Together, we can empower our Canadian athletes to reach for winning performances that will catapult us on the world stage. It’s up to us all to invest in the dream and to envision our game being played in every school and community, and with pride in stadiums around the globe.
The Annual Awards Program recognizes the top individuals in seven categories each year with the winners announced at an Annual Awards Dinner in conjunction with the Annual General Meeting.
Awards Categories & Selection Committees
There are eight categories included in the Annual Awards program:
- Player of the Year (Men’s & Women’s Fifteens and Sevens)
- Young Player of the Year (Men’s and Women’s)
- Coach of the Year (Male and Female)
- Match Official of the Year
- Volunteer of the Year
- Provincial Union of the Year
- Canadian Shield (Player's Player of the Year – Men)
- Gillian Forence Award (Player's Player of the Year - Women)
Nominations are open for the awards that require submissions until November 30th.Once the nominations are closed, the Selection Committees will review nominations and submit them to the Rugby Canada Board of Directors for approval.
Award categories that are open for nominations are:
- Coach of the Year (Male and Female)
- Match Official of the Year
- Volunteer of the Year
- Young Player of the Year (Male and Female – must not be on any of the National Senior Teams)
Winners will be announced and recognized at the Annual Awards Dinner.
Download a copy of the nomination form HERE.
National Recognition Sub Committee
The National Recognition Sub Committee was established in 2012 to set guidelines and oversee the nomination, selection and award process for the program. Founded by Keith Gillam, the program has become established and includes the following members:
2017 Committee Members to be Confirmed
- Dawn Dauphinee, Chair
- Araba Chintoh
- Annabel Kehoe
- Penny Kroll
- John Seaman
Canadian Shield Award – Taylor Paris
Coach of the Year, Female – Jo Ann Robinson
Volunteer of the Year - Judy Seddon
Coach of the Year, Male – David McCully
Young Player of the Year, Female – Taylor Black
Men’s Sevens Player of the Year – Justin Douglas
Young Player of the Year, Male – Cole Keith
Match Official of the Year – Alan Hudson
President’s Award – Keith Gillam, Richard Powers, Bill Webb, Mayor Stewart
Women’s Sevens Player of the Year – Ghislaine Landry
Men’s Fifteens Player of the Year – Matt Heaton
Women’s Fifteens Player of the Year – Kelly Russell
Provincial Union of the Year – Rugby Nova Scotia
Gillian Florence Award – Kelly Russell
- Canadian Shield Award - Ray Barkwill
- Coach of the Year, Female - Jennifer Boyd
- Volunteer of the Year - Roxanne Butler
- Coach of the Year, Male - John Daggett
- Young Player of the Year, Female - Sophie DeGoede
- Men’s Sevens Player of the Year - Nathan Hirayama
- Special Recognition Award - John Lyall
- Young Player of the Year, Male - Conor Keys
- Match Official of the Year - Rose LaBreche
- President’s Award - Malcolm MacAfee
- Women’s Sevens Player of the Year - Kayla Moleschi
- Men’s Fifteens Player of the Year - Evan Olmstead
- Women’s Fifteens Player of the Year - Laura Russell
- Provincial Union of the Year - Saskatchewan Rugby Union
- Gillian Florence Award - Julianne Zussman
- Men’s 7s Player of the Year - John Moonlight
- Women’s 7s Player of the Year - Karen Paquin
- Men’s 15s Player of the Year - DTH van der Merwe
- Women’s 15s Player of the Year - Laura Russell
- Canadian Shield - Jamie Cudmore & DTH van der Merwe
- Gillian Florence Award - Barbara Mervin
- Provincial Union of the Year - Rugby Alberta
- Volunteer of the Year - Rick Romsa
- Match Official of the Year - Rose LaBreche
- Coach of the Year, Male - Graeme Moffat
- Coach of the Year, Female - Anna Wray
- Young Player of Year, Male - Matt Tierney
- Young Player of Year, Female - Caroline Crossley
- Men’s 7s Player of the Year - John Moonlight
Women’s 7s Player of the Year - Ashley Steacy
Men’s 15s Player of the Year - Jeff Hassler
Women’s 15s Player of the Year - Kelly Russell & Magali Harvey
Canadian Shield - Hubert Buydens
Gillian Florence Award - Andrea Burk
Volunteer of the Year - Connie McGinley
Match Official of the Year - Sherry Trumbull
Coach of the Year, Male - Shaun Allen
Coach of the Year, Female - Jo Hull
Young Player of Year, Male - Lucas Rumball
Young Player of Year, Female - Breanne Nicholas
- Men’s 7s Player of the Year - John Moonlight
- Women’s 7s Player of the Year - Jen Kish
- Men’s 15s Player of the Year - Ciaran Hearn
- Women’s 15s Player of the Year - Kelly Russell
- Canadian Shield - Phil Mack
- Provincial Union of the Year - British Columbia Rugby Union
- Volunteer of the Year - Mark Winokur
- Match Official of the Year - Bruce Kuklinski
- Coach of the Year, Male - Michel Francois
- Coach of the Year, Female - Stephanie Murphy
- Young Player of Year, Male - Patrick Kay
- Young Player of Year, Female - DaLeaka Menin
- Men’s 7s Player of the Year - John Moonlight
- Women’s 7s Player of the Year - Jen Kish
- Men’s 15s Player of the Year - Tyler Ardron
- Women’s 15s Player of the Year - Maria Samson
- Canadian Shield - Hubert Buydens
- Provincial Union of the Year - Federation de Rugby du Quebec
- Volunteer of the Year - Dean Kittleson
- Match Official of the Year - Andrew McMaster
- Coach of the Year, Male - Chris Silverthorn
- Coach of the Year, Female - Jen Ross
- Young Player of Year, Male - Lucas Hammond
- Young Player of Year, Female - Bianca Farella
In October 2016, the Ways and Means Committee was established to develop a plan to honour and preserve rugby’s culture and heritage in Canada by recognizing the extraordinary achievements of rugby’s participants throughout the country.
The Committee, which features nine members, is headed by Barry Giffen, a two-time past President of Rugby Canada. The other Committee members are John Billingsley, Rick Bourne, Liz Ferguson, Keith Gillam, Rick Graham, Alan Sharp, Doug Sturrock and Keith Wilkinson. The committee features past Rugby Canada board members, presidents and players.
The Rugby Canada Hall of Fame will be located in the recently announced Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre in Langford, BC, and will feature a museum that highlights and celebrates the historic moments in Canadian rugby history, creating a unique focal point at the state-of-the-art rugby facility.
Hall of Fame Committee Members:
- Doug Sturrock - Chair
- John Billingsley - Secretary
- Alan Sharp
- Rick Bourne
- Liz Ferguson
- Keith Wilkinson
- Rick Graham
Download Nomination Form - Click Here!
For Nomination Process Details - Click Here!
Dr. Ian Birtwell
Immigrating in 1972, Birtwell came to Canada from England having played for Sedgley Park, Kings College, University of London, and Hampstead. He joined the Meraloma Club in Vancouver, but in 1975 repeated injuries stopped him playing and he started coaching. Initially, and over 4 years, he coachedhis club and representative junior-age teams. Over the next 9 years he coached senior men’s teams for the club, Vancouver District and British Columbia. At all these playing levels his teams were highly successful and victorious in domestic, national, and international competition.
In 1989 Birtwell was appointed as National Coach of the Senior Men’s Team were he held this position for six years - the longest term of any Canadian National Rugby Team coach to the present day. Dr. Birtwell’s coaching philosophy interpreted the demands and challenges of the international game, and he understood how these had to be metand what skills and strategies to employ and develop. His time of coaching all levels provided an opportunity to honeand verifyhis methods, and hewas ahead of his time in the use of analytics and working alongside sport scientists.
Birtwell and the National team produced positive results, finishing with a record of 22-16 over the course of his six years in charge. Birtwell’s squad for the 1991 Rugby World Cup gave an exceptionally strong showing, losing to New Zealand in the quarter-finals. The team was given a standing ovation based on their inspiring performancein that game and during the competition. The team’s World Cup performance elevated them to a notable top 8 world ranking, the highest achieved by the National Men’s Team. Through Birtwell’s leadership Canada’s Senior Men’s Team became known internationallyas a rugby sidewhich was competitive with the best and onethat continuously developed, was strong up front, resourceful behind, and with a brilliantly strong defence. He took Canadian rugby intouncharted territory.
Dr. Maria Gallo
Mario Gallo began playing rugby at St. James High School in Guelph launching a career that would last fifteen years and take her around the world.
She starred as a member of the Guelph Gryphons from 1996-2000 leading her team to four provincial titles and the inaugural CIAU championship in 1998. She and the Gryphons would win the CIAU silver medal the following season. Both times she was named a tournament all-star and the event’s most valuable player. Gallo was a two-time OUA all-star (1997 & 1998), an All-Canadian in 1998, and Guelph’s Female Athlete of the Year that same year. After graduating from the U of G, she moved to the University of Alberta where she won two more national titles in 2001 and 2003 and was named the Panda’s Female Athlete of the Year and the CIAU Player of the Year in 2002. She did all this while earning her Ph.D. in Muscle Exercise Biochemistry.
Her next stop on the rugby pitch was playing for Canada. She was a vice-captain for several years playing on the national 15’s rugby team from 1999 to 2010. She was a mainstay of the national team playing a total of 55 international caps and in two World Cups – 2002 and 2006. In 2006 she had the second most tries of any player in the event with six. Gallo played with Canada’s national 7’s rugby team from 2008-2010 where again her leadership and dogged determination paid off as she was named team captain leading our country into the 2009 World Cup.
In 2002 and 2003 she filled her winter months as a member of Canada’s Bobsleigh team, finding the power she had developed in rugby was a natural fit when it came to the explosive starts necessary in bobsledding.
Gallo is now the head coach of the UBC Thunderbirds Women’s 7’s and 15’s rugby teams taking the 7’s squad to their first national title in 2016. While at UBC she completed her post-doc in blood doping and in 2010 was elected to the Guelph Gryphon Hall of Fame. She was also inducted into the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame in 2016.
Born in Derby, England Monty Heald became involved in rugby at Royal Masonic School, in 1949. He played for Derby R.F.C. over a fifteen year period, captaining the team for two years. Immigrating in 1968, Heald played for the Hamilton Hornets from 1968 to 1972. In 1973 the Burlington Centaurs Rugby Club was founded, where Heald became a founding member and the Club’s first captain. Heald’s commitment ultimately earned him Life Member of the Club recognition.
Ending his playing career in 1988, Heald chose to continue his involvement in the sport by maintaining administrative roles at a number of levels. He served the Niagara Union as the Director of the Senior Team, and the Ontario Rugby Union as a selector for two years. In 1981, Heald became a National Selector, chairing the C.R.U. Selection Committee from 1983 to 1994. In 1984 he was appointed as the Manager of the Canadian Sevens team and was elected to the Board of Directors of the Canadian Rugby Union in 1986, serving as Director of The National Team until 1991. In 1991, he was elected as President and served in this capacity for eight years. During his leadership, the Union effected a major change in name to Rugby Canada, leading to the National Union becoming significantly more involved in the activities and programs of the International Rugby Board – or World Rugby as we know it today.
In concluding his term as a Director, Heald’s total years of service to the National Union capped off at 20 years. He continued on as Chair of Rugby Canada’s Past Presidents committee, Chair of the Hall of Fame committee and member of the Annual Awards Committee. For his endless support and dedication to rugby in Canada, Heald was given the honour of an Honorary Lifetime Member of Rugby Canada in 2013.
Widely recognized as an architect of the game for women in Canada. A force and a leader on the field in the beginning days of the game, she devoted considerable efforts to expand and raise the level of play in three provinces. Ruth represented the Alberta Rugby Union, Saskatchewan Rugby Union, and BC Rugby Union at National Championships from 1984 to 1993. A member of the 1987 squad, Canada’s first women’s rugby team, Ruth also took on the role of Director of the National Women’s team for that inaugural match. As an international player, she earned 11 caps, captaining the team on 9 of those occasions. Her first and last caps were against the USA in 1987 and 1993.
In British Columbia a once flourishing women’s league had dwindled down to only one in the lower mainland by the late 80’s. This prompted Ruth to establish a women’s team at the Vancouver Rowing Club upon moving to Vancouver - offering up at least one other competitive team. Once the Rowers were well established Ruth launched another team at the University of British Columbia in 1991 where she was pursuing a second degree. Ruth began her coaching career with UBC Women’s Rugby team and continued to lead the team for three years after which she returned to coaching at the Rowing Club.
She earned her NCCP Level III coaching certification and coached the BCRU Senior Women’s team for many years, being one of the first women to coach a provincial squad to a National Championship. In BC, in particular, her impact on the development of the game for women is indelible and is recognized in the naming of the Senior Women’s premier competition in her name, the Ruth Hellerud-Brown Cup.
Spence G. McTavish
McTavish’s high level of performances and record during his rugby career as a club, sub-union, provincial, and national team player is quite remarkable. After a stellar career at UBC, he was a founding member of the UBC Old Boys for whom he played from 1974-1989 and coached them to two provincial titles in 1990 and 1991. He returned to UBC in 1992 and coached there until 2014.
Having not yet been selected for BC, McTavish was chosen to represent Canada against Fiji in 1970 and by 1987 had become both BC’s and Canada’s longest serving player of international standing. He scored a try in his first ever game and seventeen years later was in the lineup for two of Canada’s three appearances in the very first Rugby World Cup. McTavish’s 22 international appearances for Canada from 1970-1987 were remarkable considering that only one other Canadian player has had the equivalent longevity on the national team. His ability as a leader was verified by his captaincy for two of four overseas tours made by Canada. On the 1979 Wales, England, France tour, he played in all six games and was captain of two. McTavish’s talent was recognized overseas by his selection to the Irish Wolfhounds in 1973 and in 1976 to the Overseas XV against Cardiff.
McTavish’s record in the fifteen-a-side game almost parallels his exploits in the seven-a-side version. During his three years in the Hong Kong Sevens, McTavish was also captain. From 1994-1998 he returned to the 7’s game, coaching Canada’s National 7’s team, including the 1997 Rugby World Cup and the 1998 Commonwealth Games. Believing that one should lead by example, McTavish provided ample evidence during his outstanding career for others to emulate.
Douglas “Buzz” Moore
Douglas Moore, known to most as "Buzz", moved to Vancouver from Regina in 1925 at age 4. His time at Vancouver’s Lord Byng High School allowed Buzz to excel at football, skiing, and rugby. Showing much promise in rugby, he joined the Meraloma Rugby Club at age 16 and began playing for the senior side. During a prolific senior rugby career that lasted twenty-eight years, he was awarded the Howie McPhee Memorial Trophy as Vancouver’s outstanding rugby player.
Buzz captained both the BC and Canada sides in 1948 until 1962 against Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, USA, Japan and Fiji. At 42, he led Canada on a three-month long tour of Great Britain during which his side took on the famed Barbarian Club. A 3-3 tie resulted after which Buzz was presented with one of rugby’s highest awards, “Honorary Barbarian”.
Buzz retired from play in 1965 following a Canadian Rugby Championship with BC. Throughout his career he held various administrative roles including Coach and President of the Meraloma RFC and President of the Vancouver Rugby Union from 1954-1966. In 1967 he was inducted as a builder into the BC Sports Hall of Fame and in 1975 was awarded the Jack Patterson Memorial Trophy. Buzz joined the UBC Athletics department in 1964 and was consistently involved there until his death in 2011. Buzz was inducted into the UBC Sports Hall of Fame in 1995 and received an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University in 2002.
A forefront for women’s rugby, White chose to take up the game in 1980. She was active in the administration of Women’s rugby for the province of Alberta while being a trailblazer on the field of play. She was the Captain of the First Canadian Women’s Rugby team in 1987 and 0represented Canada in the early years before being appointed Co-Captain of Canada’s first World Cup Team in 1991. In 1994, she Captained the team at the Second Women’s Rugby World Cup and continued her involvement with the National team participating in two Canada Cup competitions. She also captained the first participating Canadian women’s team at the Hong Kong Sevens invitational tournament in 1997. White retired from Representative Rugby in 1997 and earned a total of 17 caps in 10 years of play.
Along with her distinguished playing career, White devoted years to the growth women’s rugby in Canada. Some of her major contributions include being a director on the Alberta Women’s Rugby Union; Director of Women’s Rugby on the Board of Directors for Rugby Alberta in the late 1980’s; was the Women’s Players representative at the Rugby Canada Strategic Planning session in 1995. She sat on the B.C. Rugby Union Board of Directors and helped bring the West Coast Women’s Rugby Association into the BCRU in the early 2000’s and served on the Rugby Canada Board of Directors from 2007-2013.
Charron, one of the most dominant rugby players of his time, is Canada’s all-time caps leader after suiting up as a starter in all 76 appearances for his country, including 25 times as captain, a Canadian record he shares with Gareth Rees. Charron made his test debut against Argentina in 1990 and made his final appearance at the 2003 Rugby World Cup against Tonga.
Charron played in four Rugby World Cups and went to a fifth as part of management team. He was a member of the inaugural Rugby World Cup Sevens squad in 1993 and also played in the famous Hong Kong Sevens on three occasions. He is the only Tier 2 player to have scored test tries against New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.
Over his distinguished career, Charron also made five appearances for the famed British Barbarians and also suited up as part of the World 15’s squad that faced Argentina to celebrate their centenary anniversary in 1999. Charron played for Bristol, Moseley, Pau and US Dax overseas and domestically suited up for the Ottawa Irish Rugby Club where he helped them win multiple provincial championships, across the McCormick Cup and sevens leagues. He also won National Championships with Ontario and the English Division 2 championship with Bristol.
Charron has been inducted into the Eastern Rugby Ontario Hall of Fame, Ontario Rugby Hall of Fame, Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame and is recognized as being one of the top 100 athletes to come from Ottawa. Rugby Canada’s newly announced training facility, located in Langford, BC, will be named the ‘Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre.’
An astonishing talent, Florence is the most decorated Canadian female player of all-time after a fantastic two decade plus career.
Hailing from Hudson, Quebec Florence played for Canada a record 66 times and is one of only five players to play in five Women’s Rugby World Cups after playing in the 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010 editions of the tournament. Florence made her senior debut at the 1994 tournament at the tender age of 18.
Florence was named to the 2003 World XV to play against the New Zealand Black Ferns and retired from international competition in 2011. Domestically, Florence played for Ste. Anne de Bellevue RFC for 22 years and represented Quebec for 18 years and was part of the 2000 and 2001 sides that won the National Championship.
The annual senior women’s player award is named in Florence’s honour which is awarded to the “player who best represents the qualities of Canadian rugby as voted by her teammates.”
A dominant specimen, Hindson was a force in both the sevens and fifteens editions of the game on the international scene.
Hindson won 31 test caps for Canada and was a member of the inaugural 1987 Rugby World Cup squad. Hindson made his debut in 1973 against Wales before suiting up for the final time in 1990 against Argentina. When he retired, he was Canada’s all-time caps leader.
On the sevens front, Hindson played in the famed Hong Kong Sevens from 1980-1987 as well as the 1987 Sydney Sevens.
In Canada, Hindson played for the Penticton Harlequins RFC, Castaway Wanderers, Oak Bay Wanderers, UBC Old Boy Ravens as well as the University of Victoria, Vancouver Island, University of British Columbia as well as provincially for BC. He was also the only Canadian to play for the South Pacific Barbarians against the South African Barbarians in their 1987 tour. He also lined up for the World Team against Ireland as part of their centenary celebrations in 1973.
Hindson has been inducted into the BC Rugby Union Hall of Fame and the BC Sports Hall of Fame.
After arriving in St. John’s, Newfoundland in 1969, and finding no club to play for, Luke established the St. John’s club and was co-founder of the Newfoundland Rugby Union and its first president.
Luke played 16 test matches for Canada, making his debut in 1974 against Tonga and bowing out against the USA in 1982. Luke captained Canada on eight occasions. He also represented the Barbarians on three occasions and was a member of the Overseas XV that played against Wales as part of the Welsh Rugby Union Centenary celebrations. He also played for the Meralomas in Canada and for the Pirates R.F.C. and Harlequins F.C. in the UK.
He was the coach and manager of Canada’s sevens team in the 1981 Hong Kong Sevens and also coached Canada’s U21 team from 1987-1989. He was an assistant coach and manager of the Canadian squad that reached the quarterfinals of the 1991 Rugby World Cup.
Luke served on the Board of Rugby Canada and was a member and then Chair of the Rugby Canada National Coaching Committee for over 20 years. He became a Master Coach in Canada's National Coaching Certification Program before being elected Chair of the National Coaching Certification Council in 1993.
In 1999, Luke was the recipient of the 3M Coaching Association of Canada Coaching Award for Sport Development and in 2006 received the IRB Development Award for his contributions to the growth of rugby in Canada.
One of the most recognizable rugby stars of all-time, Rees won 55 test caps over a sensational career and played in four Rugby World Cup’s. He became the first North American inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2011.
Rees’ 491 points are the second most in Canadian test history while his 120 points in Rugby World Cups also remain a Canadian record. The Victoria, BC product made his test debut in 1986 and played in test victories over Argentina, Wales, Scotland and France as well as Rugby World Cup quarterfinal appearance in 1991. He retired in 1999 having captained Canada in two Rugby World Cups and 25 times, a record he holds with Al Charron.
In Europe, Rees attended Oxford University and played professionally for Wasps, Newport, Merignac and Harlequins where he won various cup and league competitions as well as scoring titles. He also represented the famed Barbarians four times. In Canada, Rees suited up for the University of Victoria and Castaway Wanderers and represented his province on many occasions.
Furthermore, Rees played for Canada at the U19 level and also played in the Sydney World Sevens and Hong Kong Sevens in 1988 as well as the 1992 Dubai Sevens.
In addition to the World Rugby Hall of Fame induction, Rees has been inducted into the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame, BC Rugby Hall of Fame, BC Sports Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, where he was the first rugby player so honoured.
As one of the most prolific front rowers in Canadian rugby history, Snow enjoyed an illustrious career that saw him play in four Rugby World Cups for Canada.
The Bonavista, Newfoundland native, won 62 test caps for Canada, the most of any front rower. He made his test debut against Argentina in 1995 and made his final test appearance at the 2007 Rugby World Cup against Australia. He scored eight test tries during his career.
Snow played for Eastern Province in the 1995 Currie Cup where he started in all six matches. He would go on to play professionally with Newport RFC, where he is the highest scoring prop in their 140 plus year history, as well as the Newport Gwent Dragons making over more than 230 appearances between both clubs and winning the 2001 Welsh Cup. In 2016, Snow was inducted into the Newport Rugby Hall of Fame.
Snow also spent six seasons playing for his hometown Atlantic Rock winning national titles with them in 2006, 2007 and 2010. He also represented the famed Barbarians in matches against Wales in 1996 and the East Midlands in 2004. Snow is also a member of the Mount Pearl Sports Hall of Fame.
A former President of Rugby Canada, Spray was a critical figure in the development of rugby in Canada until his retirement in 1972.
Originally from England, Spray has held the positions of BC Rugby Chair of Referees, President of BC Rugby, Chair of Rugby Tours Committee of Canada and Director and Vice-President of the Canadian Sports Federation during his illustrious career.
With no governing body at the time, Spray organized tours for 26 clubs, universities and national sides and did the same for five outbound tours including Canadian national team visits to Great Britain in 1962 and Wales in 1971.
Spray was the first president in Rugby Canada’s history, at the time known as the Canadian Rugby Union when re-launched in 1965, and held the position until 1972 when he chose to not stand for re-election.
In 1975, Spray was inducted into the BC Hall of Fame and earned the same honour in 2005 with the BC Rugby Hall of Fame. Spray passed away in 1991 and will be recognized posthumously.
Rugby Canada has defined the Honorary Life Member category of award as "the highest level of recognition granted by the Union.”
To be elected by the Provinces and approved by the Board distinguishes these recipients in a distinguished and unique way. For example, they would have served at the highest level of leadership as President, Chair, CEO or Board level and while doing so has taken Rugby Canada to a greater level or position in the National or International sport consciousness. The HLM will have played the game, will have served greater than ten years at a senior level and made a difference to the financial strength of the organization, in programs, or on the field. This recipient may have likely been a Hall of Famer along the path to HLM.
Honorary Life Members
Alan Sharp - Inducted 1996
Alan Sharp was without doubt the pre-eminent administrator for the sport of Rugby Football in Canada during the 1980’s & 90’s. He was influential in the games growth not only in Canada but internationally as well. For thirteen (13) years he was a member of Rugby Canada’s Board of Directors; a member with vision and passion guiding its development. In addition he served for ten (10) years on the International Rugby Board (IRB) as a Council member overseeing the explosive growth of the game worldwide.
Alan was recognized in 1983 with the British Columbia rugby community awarding him the Jack Patterson trophy for his outstanding volunteer contributions, but his colleagues recognized that his involvement and contribution to the game drew him to much wider fields. His leadership, planning and financial acumen firmly established the Canadian Rugby Union at the “head table” of world Rugby. His term in the office saw the rapid expansion of the Game domestically, while his tenure at the International level with the IRB was as equally significant and impressive if not more so and was highlighted with the game:
- Becoming truly established in over one hundred countries and territories
- Transitioning it to include the professional game
- Expanding exponentially in terms of participants and programming/games for Women and Junior’s
- Developing its world Championship (Rugby World Cup) into one of the top four sporting competitions in the world
In the international community he is held in the highest esteem and was honoured at the 2001 IRB Council meeting with a farewell dinner. At this event, Vernon Pugh QC, Chairman of the IRB said, “To all those that had the pleasure of Mr. Sharp’s company over the years he will be sadly missed for his participation, wit, wisdom and astuteness round the Council table. Mr. Sharp has been an outstanding representative of the Canadian Rugby Union and the Game generally….”
He played Flanker for the Vancouver Meraloma’s. Upon retiring from playing, he turned his attention and considerable efforts into administering the game he so loved. Alan sat on many boards/committees over a twenty-seven (27) year period between1974 – 2001.
Monty Heald - Inducted 2013
Monty Heald was born in Derby, in the East Midlands region of England. He first became involved in Rugby at Royal Masonic School, Hertfordshire, in 1949 playing for the Colts team. Upon graduation from school, he played for Derby R.F.C. over a fifteen year period. During this period, he also played for Greengarth R.F.C., in Cumberland (1957 - 1959) and Ashbourne R.F.C., in Derbyshire (1959 – 1960). Also, during this period, Monty was selected for and played in every position but hooker and fullback. During his final years with Derby R.F.C., concluding in 1968, he played in what may be a Club record 107 consecutive first grade matches, and was Club captain for two years, 1965/7. Monty immigrated to Burlington, Ontario in 1968 and he moved to Puslinch in 1971. He played for the Hamilton Hornets from 1968 to 1972, and he captained that Club in 1971. The Burlington Centaurs Rugby Club was founded in 1973 and Monty became a founding member and the Club’s first captain. He also served the Burlington Club as its second President, a position he held for four years, and he ultimately became a Life Member of the Club.Monty’s playing career concluded in 1988 and he had already become involved in administration at a number of levels. He served the Niagara Union as the Director of the Senior Team, and he served the Ontario Rugby Union as a selector for two years (1979/80).
In 1981, Heald became a National Selector and he chaired the C.R.U. Selection Committee for the period 1983 to 1994. In 1984 and 1985 he was appointed as the Manager of the Canadian Sevens team which played in the Hong Kong Sevens. Also in 1984, he was appointed as the Manager of the Canadian team and he served in this position for Can-Am matches in Chicago (1984), Tucson (1986) and Seattle (1990). His managerial career was highlighted by the seven match tour to Australia, in June, 1985, in which the Test matches in Sydney and Brisbane represented the first ever meetings between Canada and Australia. Monty was also manager of the first CANZ series (1989) taking the National team to Argentina and New Zealand.
Monty was elected to the Board of Directors of the Canadian Rugby Union in 1986 and he served as Director of The National Team for the period 1986 – 1991. He was elected as President in 1991 and he served in this capacity for eight years. In 1995 PARA was formed 1995 and Monty served as the Canadian Rugby Union representative including two years as President. The National Union underwent many significant structural changes over Heald’s term of office and, as well, there were many major challenges facing the administration, including Marketing and Communications, the tremendous growth in the number of domestic players, and the growth of the Women’s game, both domestically and internationally. In the middle of Monty’s leadership, the Union effected a major change, that being the change in name to Rugby Canada. The National Union, through the services of Alan Sharp, our representative on the Council of the International Rugby Board, became significantly more involved in the activities and programs of the I.R.B.
The number of international fixtures involving Canada increased by 160% over the period 1990 to 1999, and Canada prepared for and participated in three Rugby World Cups, in 1991, 1995 and 1999. Monty’s concluding term, as a Director, in 2000 brought his total years of service to the National Union up to twenty. He was inducted into the Ontario Rugby Union Hall of Fame in 2004. He is now retired and lives in Waterdown, Ontario, and is still involved in Rugby, coaching at the Waterdown High School and serving as Chair of the Past Presidents committee, Chair of the Hall of Fame committee and member of the Annual Awards Committee of Rugby Canada.
Dr. Pat Parfrey - Inducted 2015
Pat Parfrey’s name is synonymous with rugby in Newfoundland and Labrador (where the local press have dubbed him Dr. Rugby), across Canada and around the world. For over 30 years Pat has given his all to Canadian rugby from the development of the game, to the coaching of players, to becoming one of the sport’s most prolific fundraisers and builders. Pat has raised millions of dollars for rugby which has led to the building of world class facilities, the training of countless athletes and the global pursuit of top flight competition. He is the only person to have served as Coach of Canada’s National Senior Men’s Team and President of Rugby Canada and is currently Canada’s representative on the World Rugby Board.
Pat’s long list of achievements for rugby are equally matched with his academic and professional accomplishments. An internationally renowned scientist and clinical epidemiologist, he has been named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and an Officer of the Order of Canada among other distinguished awards.
Pat started playing rugby at the age of 13 in his native Cork, Ireland progressing to the University College Cork RFC while studying for his medical degree. He went on to represent the Province of Munster, playing in all its games from 1970-77 and highlighted by the 1973 match when Munster drew 3-3 with the New Zealand All Blacks. He claimed his Ireland cap, again versus New Zealand, in 1974. Incidentally his only memento of the match was a pair of All Black socks (which were unwittingly used by the author of this biography to clean stain brushes when Pat hired some players to update his house one summer for tour credits!)
To further his academic career Pat moved to England and played with the London Irish from 1976-1981 assuming the responsibility of player coach from 1977-1982 guiding the team to its first ever RFU Cup Final in 1980. He arrived in Canada in 1982 to work at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal and then moved to Memorial University of Newfoundland to become an assistant professor of Medicine.
Head of his department he now holds the position of Professor of Medicine (Nephrology) and continues his ground breaking research in genetic and epidemiology of inherited diseases, nephrology and healthcare delivery systems.
With limited financial and player resources Pat single handedly transformed how we played rugby and where we played the game. His ability to inspire and motivate were not confined to the pitch as he reached out to the business community and government to help finance and realize his vision of creating a world class rugby facility in the centre of St. John’s. Soon we were welcoming competitive teams from all corners of the globe and embarking on regular tours ourselves. These were not social trips but tours that tested our developing abilities against stiff opposition. Under his direction this group of ‘bog’ rugby players would rise to become national contenders. His steadfast belief that players can only improve by playing better opposition and that you can achieve greatness if you reach beyond what you think you are capable of has served us well.
Having placed Newfoundland on the Canadian rugby map he soon set his sights on increasing Rugby Canada’s position on the global scale. From his impressive player/coaching days at London Irish, guiding Canada’s national team in the late 1990’s, and winning four national titles with the Newfoundland/Atlantic Rock, he has displayed his incredible ability to mould winning teams from scarce resources. He has led two of Canada’s historic clubs; the Montreal Irish and Swilers RFC to cup winning success. Pat has mentored and coached athletes of all ages in numerous Canada Games, National Festivals, the Canadian Rugby Championship, its precursor the Super League and even prior to that the Tier 1 and Tier 2 National Championships. Even today he finds time to guide the Atlantic Rock’s senior men’s team and various age grade sides. His voice has been heard motivating and inspiring thousands of Canadian rugby players. In fact his voice has been heard by tens of thousands of rugby fans around the globe! Prior to guiding Canada’s team at the 1999 World Cup, Pat coached the Canadian team against Ireland at Lansdowne Road before 20,000 fans. Hearing him ‘coaching’ the players from the upper stands will be a memory not soon forgotten. His love of the game and the players he coached is best summed up from a response Pat gave to a reporter who asked how it felt to coach the Canada team in RWC 1999 - “It was a pleasure to coach Canadians who are tough, proud and great friends”. Not only did he teach his players how to be better at the game of rugby, we came to hold ourselves to a higher standard and became lifelong friends through the process.
Although his coaching success may be his most visible work, it is the behind the scenes planning, goal setting, lobbying, fundraising, orchestrating, and ultimately getting things done on the grandest of scale that will trump his many achievements. He is acknowledged as an intellect that combines his own resources with his innate ability to organize and harvest other resources to achieve results for the betterment of our society and in particular our youth.
Away from the field the Parfrey home is legendary for its rugby hospitality. Pat along with his late wife Dr. Benvon Parfrey, a recipient herself of Rugby Canada’s Chairman’s Award, have hosted and seemingly housed the planet in the spirit of the game. They also managed to raise four fine men, all of whom have played rugby at the top level including two who have been capped by Canada. It is a family that lives and breathes rugby.
Stephanie White de Goede - Inducted 2016
Stephanie’s involvement in the sport of rugby began in the province of Alberta, but most of her time has been spent in British Columbia and currently calls Victoria her home. As a player, a coach, a volunteer, an administrator and a rugby parent, her contribution to the sport warrants recognition for her multi-faceted contribution over almost 40 years.
The introduction of Women’s rugby into the Canadian Rugby community formally began in the mid 1970s. One of the initiating Provincial unions was the Alberta Rugby Union. The challenge of introducing Women to rugby faced many obstacles, particularly from the traditionalists who didn’t believe the sport could provide benefit to women, or Vice versa.
However, the reality was that a number of women across the country had watched from the sidelines, and they felt that it was a game that they would enjoy. Informal games were undertaken, with the result that a significant number of women within the community decided that they wanted a formal structure within Rugby Canada to allow them to participate with full protection under the ‘Laws of the Game”. Ms. White was one of the women in Alberta that chose to take up the game of rugby starting in 1980. This was the year after three rugby clubs were formed and league play began. While Ms. White was active in the organization of Women’s rugby as part of the formation of the Alberta Women’s Rugby Union in the early 80s, she was also a leader on the field of play.
Ms. White was the first Captain of the Canadian Women's Rugby team. Her play, as well as leadership on the field contributed significantly to the success of the game. Ms. White was active on National Women’s Team activities that led to the preparation for the inaugural Women’s Rugby World Cup. This included two additional Test Matches with the United States in 1988 and 1989. She was then appointed Co-‐Captain of the 1991 World Cup Team. The Canadian team made a strong showing at this First International Tournament, winning the Plate competition. Comments from Administrators involved in the preparation of this team give Ms. White strong recognition for contributing to the preparation and success achieved at this tournament.
The Second Women’s Rugby World Cup was held in 1994. Canada was again represented, and Ms. White was appointed Captain of the team. The growth of Women’s rugby throughout the world was increasing at a positive rate. The result being this second World Cup was given much more credibility, and the established countries started to pour financial and technical resources into their National Women’s teams. Canada did not have the luxury of increasing the resources to any significant extent during this period. To the credit of the team, a 6th place finish was achieved, losing in the Plate competition in the final game.
In an effort to provide more, and better competition for our National Women’s team, Rugby Canada initiated the Canada Cup competition. This competition involved inviting three (3) National teams from other countries to play in the tournament in Canada. Ms. White participated in these two competitions, again providing on the field leadership. In 1997 Canada sent their first National Women’s team to the Hong Kong Sevens tournament. Ms. White had the honor of Captaining this side.
One of the first competitions held at an interprovincial level was the Western Canada Women’s Championships initially held in 1983. This tournament was held each year between 1983 and 1987. Ms. White played on the Alberta team in each of these years contributing to the Alberta team being Western Canadian Champions for the four-year period 1983-1987.
In summary, Ms. White retired from Representative Rugby in 1997. Over her playing career she earned 17 National Team caps in the 10 years she played at the international level.
Players lead the team, but also the community, in the growth of Rugby in Canada. Women’s rugby has been blessed with a leadership core of women who were determined to develop the game of rugby for women in Canada. Ms. White was part of that leadership group. She worked hard to support opportunities for Women’s rugby in Canada to grow. A brief synopsis of this very important part of developing the playing of rugby by women within the rugby community is as follows
- Helped establish the Alberta Women’s Rugby Union, and assisted the inclusion of Women’s rugby in the Alberta Rugby Union.
- Was the Director of Women’s Rugby, as a member of the Board of Rugby Alberta in the late 1980’s
- In 1995, she was the Women’s Players representative at the Rugby Canada Strategic Planning session
- In the early 2000’s Ms. White was a member of the B.C. Rugby Union Board of Directors and helped bring the West Coast Women’s Rugby Association into the BCRU
- During the period 2007-‐2013, Ms. White was a Board member of Rugby Canada, as well as a committee member on the National Women’s High Performance Committee
- 1998 Assisted with the Comox Kickers women as well as helping with the high school team in Courtney
- 2002‐2004 – coached the James Bay Athletic Association women’s team
Currently, Ms. White is the Chair of the Monty Heald National Women’s Team Fund, raising funds to ensure that the 2017 National team players are not required to pay to be a part of Rugby Canada’s Women’s Rugby World Cup Squad and to create a legacy for future years.
John Billingsley - Inducted 2016
John Billingsley was born in Vancouver, BC where he began his rugby at Magee High School. He played rugby on the Vancouver Meralomas in 1972 & 1973 where the team won back to back BC Club Championships and then went to University of British Columbia and played from 1974-1977 while earning his Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and a minor in Commerce and Business. John also attended California State University at Long Beach and played for the University team while earning his Masters degree in Sports Administration.
In 1981, John relocated to Ontario to take the position of Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer for the Canadian Rugby Union where he was a senior staff member for 20 years. At its peak, he managed a staff of 8 employees with an operating budget of $5 million, and stayed with the organization through 2001. Following his success at Rugby Canada, he went to the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) where he was Deputy Chief Operating Officer/Chief Operating Officer for 6 years.
After his departure from the CSA, John continued to work as a Sport Management Consultant for the CSA and Rugby Canada. His role as a consultant with Rugby Canada came as the organization began hosting more home international test matches as awareness and support for the sport grew and rugby went from being held on local club/university fields to large stadiums where over 20,000 fans could assemble in one location to cheer on Canada men’s and women’s teams.
Beginning during his University years, John played rugby for Canada internationally for ten years (1974-1984), earning 9 caps. His first was earned at the age of 20 against Tonga and his last cap at age 30 against the USA. He also played on Canada’s Sevens team in 1981 and 1983 at the Hong Kong Sevens.
He also played competitive rugby at the Provincial level for 8 years with the BC Rep Team and 2 years with the Ontario Rep Team. During this time he also played competitive rugby at the Club level including the Vancouver Meralomas where he won back to back BC Championships in 1972/73; the UBC Thunderbirds, Long Beach State University and the Ottawa Irish who were Ontario Club Champions during his time playing there in 1982/83/84.
John not only played rugby but he went on to fill the role as a coach as well. In 1982-1987 he was a player and coach and from 1988-1995 solely a coach of the Ottawa Irish Sevens team that won several Ontario Sevens Championships. He also refereed rugby for approximately 10 years where he reached the provincial level before retiring in 1999.
John has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the history of the sport here in Canada and is currently serving on Rugby Canada’s Ways and Means Committee that is charged to help archive our rich rugby history and played a role in inducting our first class of Hall of Fame members in 2017.