Monty emigrated from England in 1968 and became active in local rugby from the outset. Having played for the Hamilton Hornets for four years, he became a Founding Member of the Burlington Centaurs Rugby Club in 1973. He served this club well, becoming its first Captain, President of the Club, and eventually a Life Member. His early contributions to the game continued in Ontario as he went serve as a Director of the Senior Team for the Niagara Rugby Union and a selector for the Ontario Rugby Union for two years (1979/80). They were to be an indication of the scope on his impact across all aspects of the game in Canada.
In 1981, Monty became a National Selector and chaired the Canadian Rugby Union 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. 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 1985, during which the Test matches in Sydney and Brisbane represented the first ever meetings between Canada and Australia. Monty was also the manager of the first Canadian team which participated in the CANZ (Canada, Argentina/New Zealand) 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, serving as Director of the Men’s National Team for the period 1986 – 1991. In 1991, he was elected as President and he served in this capacity for eight years. He led Rugby Canada through the game’s period of remarkable change at the end of the twentieth century seeing the number of international fixtures involving Canada’s Senior Men’s team increase by 160% and a tremendous increase in the number of domestic players, including the explosive growth of the women’s game. In 1995 the Pan America Rugby Association (PARA) was formed and Monty served as Rugby Canada’s first representative including two years as PARA’s President. He served the national organization for twenty years, finishing his service, in 2000, as a Director.
Monty never lost sight of the game on the ground and was often available to help behind the scenes and support of his colleagues, which included all members of the rugby community in Canada. With his business partner, Lexie Tynan, their company, Monilex Sports, supported rugby teams of at all levels. A lasting legacy is evident in the establishment of the Monilex Cup, the Canadian Interuniversity Sport’s National championship for Women’s rugby. Beyond working with the universities during the lead up to the inaugural event, Monilex also helped finance the very first Championship game in 1999, which featured McMaster and Guelph. The event is now held annually and represents a primary elite competition for women in Canada aspiring to the national team.
Monty came to the rescue to provide equipment on more than one occasion, when the Women’s National XV Team needed help. In 2005, when Canada was hosting the Canada Cup in Ottawa, a tournament for Women’s National teams, one of the teams dropped out at the last minute. To fill the schedule, Rugby Canada decided to field two teams. Monty stepped up to supply the required additional set of National jerseys for this second team, giving those players a new kit to play in the event. Even with the short notice, Monty came through with flying colors. Three years prior, in circumstance of greater pressure, he received a call from the manager of Canada’s 2002 Women’s Rugby World Cup…from the team bus in Barcelona as the team prepared for the event. It had been discovered that all kit had to be clean, only country and World Cup cresting was allowed. Canada’s jersey had a sponsors crest on the jersey. Without hesitation, Monty made arrangements for a refreshed set of strip and for its delivery to Spain by loyal supporters from Canada.
An account of Monty Heald would not be complete without a reflection of his joie de vivre. Roxanne Butler, Manager of the Women’s National Team, related a story of Monty being at the Women’s World Cup in Holland when he was the Rugby Canada President. “There was a Banquet. We were accommodated in a big tent type room and seated at tons of picnic tables. The night got very boisterous and many teams started dancing on the tops of the tables…. Well, so did our leader. Worried me a little at the time but there were no injuries and it showed his enjoyable character.”
The organizers of the Monty Heald National Women’s Fund have taken this opportunity to recognize and honour Monty for his many, many contributions to Rugby in our country. Monty was exemplary in his dedication to the game at all levels. He was active in the Rugby community until 2014, coaching at the Waterdown High School, serving as Chair of Rugby Canada’s Past Presidents committee, Chair of the Hall of Fame Committee and member of the Annual Awards Committee of Rugby Canada. Monty was inducted into the Ontario Rugby Union Hall of Fame in 2004 and in 2013 Rugby Canada inducted him as its second Honorary Life Member. He was a tremendous ambassador for our sport, representing the Canadian rugby community at local, provincial, national and international levels. We are honoured to still be working with him in promoting and supporting the game