Caelyn Huebner Named 2023 Winner of Courtenay Taaffe Award

The winner of the 2023 Courtenay Taaffe Award is Caelyn Huebner, who was also named as one of the George Jones Award winners for 2023.

The Courtenay Taaffe Award is presented by the Canadian Rugby Foundation (in conjunction with the Charlton L. Smith Foundation and the Taaffe family)

Courtenay Taaffe was vibrant, determined, talented and dedicated; she had endless energy and enthusiasm for her passions in life, one of which was the sport of rugby. The award was created in 2005 to honour Courtenay’s rugby passion and life achievements. The successful recipient will share some of the many qualities Courtenay did including a strong work ethic, both in the classroom and on the field, as well as an enthusiastic and determined personality. She played hooker and flanker for UVic, James Bay, Crimson Tide and Team B.C. She coached the JBAA junior women, the Vancouver Island Crimson Tide junior women, the Vancouver Island Japan Club team and the Stelly’s Secondary Queen Bees. Courtenay set a precedent for hard work and accomplishment in the sport of women’s rugby. Courtenay passed away at the age of 29 of a rare and aggressive lymphoma.

This award is annually awarded to a female athlete who excels in rugby, academics and community service. It is open to 17-28 year old players/coaches/referees who are pursuing a full-time degree, diploma or certificate program at a Canadian university or college on Vancouver Island. Students commencing or continuing full-time studies in the fall are eligible.

Caelyn Huebner

Caelyn is a Bachelor of Arts in Physical Health and Education student at the University of Victoria and like the award’s namesake, has played for James Bay Athletic Association, UVic, and the Crimson Tide. She recently began to broaden her rugby experience coaching at Esquimalt High School.

In high school she was significantly involved in her school’s community, participating in 7 sports, was involved in the school’s leadership program, volunteered in her school’s international student program, and helped start the “Best Buddies” club (a club which focuses on creating friendships between students with and without intellectual disabilities).

As Jen Roos her coach with the JBAA Senior Women’s team says, “Caelyn reminds me a lot of Courtney, whom I was fortunate enough to play with at UVIC. While not the biggest on the pitch, Caelyn plays with her heart and soul and the determination of someone three times her size. She is talented yet understated- leading our team with wisdom and commitment.

Said Cory Payne her coach at Esquimalt High School and the JBAA U16 girls team, “For the years that I coached Caelyn, she has been easily one of the most committed players that I have had the honour to coach. Her desire to be better and make the team better gave us the success we had in earning the Provincial school title.

Caelyn has always been reliable. This was especially evident when she had a major injury and still came to practices, games and events. Caelyn continued cheering on her teammates and taking part in any way so she could remain a part of the team. When Caelyn said she would be
somewhere or do something she would. Caelyn has always been eager to help the new players and encourage them to get better. She has a
natural teaching ability and it shows in her patience and acceptance of new players. I’ve leaned on Caelyn to be a leader because of her ability to model the inclusiveness of all players regardless of skill and or experience.

Caelyn has demonstrated her natural leadership and teaching skills these past two seasons while being my assistant coach with the high school team. She was an important role model to the players as well as instructing and guiding the team in all aspects of the game. Caelyn’s attributes
as a player and leader are what made me choose her as a mentor to the high school team. I really admire her approach to leadership and encouragement of all. Esquimalt placed 4th in the Province at last year’s school provincials and I truly believe Caelyn was a large part of that
success because of all the things listed above”.

2023 George Jones Awards and Thomas Family Awards

We are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2023 Thomas Family Awards and George Jones Awards:

2023 GEORGE JONES AWARDS

George Jones Q.C. was well-known in both athletic and legal circles. His resume was lengthy and legendary and included appearances and successes at virtually every court level, fundraising, coaching, refereeing in many sports and at many levels.

George was born in Victoria. His father was an admiral and knew the value of discipline and hence George was sent to Brentwood College School at that time located in Mill Bay, he spent 1 year at Brentwood, the rest at Lakefield in Ontario.

From there George attended law school at UBC and married early and had 5 children. Graduation was achieved and a short career with Revenue Canada followed. Either or both Revenue Canada or George came to their senses and George then spent the next 50 years defending individuals in Tax Court and bailing out rugby players from various situations and occasionally and sporadically billing clients strictly on Robin Hood principles. Two more children followed together with countless loyal and loving  friends. George’s roast in 2012 was attended by 300 people at the Empress and raised 50,000 for the George Jones scholarship.

One of George’s most ardent passions was for the sport of rugby and he was a co-founder and the first director of the Canadian Rugby Foundation.

Janelle Amyotte – University of Alberta

Janelle Amyotte

Janelle Amyotte is going into her last year at the University of Alberta and will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Recreation, Sport, and Tourism. Janelle started playing rugby with the Strathcona Druids in Sherwood Park, Alberta, when she was 14 years old, after a successful career as a competitive gymnast. She joined the Green and Gold Rugby Academy in her grade 11 year and stayed with her green and gold roots as a varsity athlete with Pandas rugby team. Last year, she was the proud recipient of the Panda award. One of Janelle’s favourite rugby moments was helping her Pandas team win the Sluggit cup this year.

Janelle also has a passion for sport, and kids in sport. She spent her spring coaching high school rugby and her summer working with Rugby Alberta helping to organize the Alberta Regional Championships, Western Championships, and Alberta Summer Games. She is a firm believer in access to sport for kids, and would like to play a role in growing rugby in the future. Janelle is grateful for the opportunity to receive the George Jones Award.

Tanveer Chowdhury – University of Toronto

Tanveer Chowdhury

My name is Tanveer Chowdhury, but my friends and everyone else around me know me as Niloy. I am currently a Master of Teaching student at the University of Toronto with hopes of graduating in 2024, and I write this letter with the intention of applying for the George F. Jones Award Fund.

My contributions to rugby began from my time setting up the team at my local high school, where I also captained the team. I further contributed to rugby within the community by working with the Toronto-Inner City Rugby Foundation (TIRF) where I taught rugby to youth across the city. In addition to this, I have most recently coached at my old high school, Woburn CI, introducing the sport to students and getting them involved.

Ever since I began playing rugby, it has been a sport I have fallen in love with. While there were many trials and tribulations, I faced playing the sport, I have always come back to play and continue to keep playing the sport. As of right now, I am not able to play due to injuries, but I hope to be back as a player for my club for the TRU 2024 season. In addition to this, I also hope to be a World Rugby Level 2 coach who coaches local youth sides within Toronto. I hope that my past achievements and accomplishments qualify me for this scholarship, and I hope to hear back soon.

 Kennedy Feasby – University of Guelph

Kennedy Feasby

My name is Kennedy Feasby, and I am a 4th year Human Kinetics student and a varsity rugby athlete at the University of Guelph. Rugby is more than just a game to me, it has given me a sense of belonging and community, celebrated my strength and grit as a female athlete, and instilled so many positive character traits that would allow me to become the best global citizen I could be. This scholarship grant would help support and fund my 2023/2024 university rugby season and age-grade team Canada camps.

Rugby has given me so many opportunities to get involved and give back to my community. During high school, I was given the opportunity to work with the mixed abilities rugby program based out of my home club the Oshawa Vikings. During my time at University I have volunteered at clinics for local
high school teams, growing the game for young female athletes. Furthermore, I was fortunate to help out with the Premier Sevens League rookie rugby clinic that was hosted in Washington D.C.

This summer I played on the U23 national Canadian team, won the Ontario Women’s League cup with the Guelph Redcoats Senior Women’s team, and I competed in 2 tournaments in the Premier 7’s league, winning the championship in Washington DC with the Loonies. Last season, I was named an
OUA All Star and a U SPORTS All Canadian. My future goals include being a rugby ambassador, representing Canada at the World cup and being a strong female rugby role model for our next generation.

 Caelyn Huebner – University of Victoria

Caelyn Huebner

Caelyn is a Bachelor of Arts in Physical Health and Education student at the University of Victoria and like the award’s namesake, has played for James Bay Athletic Association, UVic, and the Crimson Tide. She recently began to broaden her rugby experience coaching at Esquimalt High School.

In high school she was significantly involved in her school’s community, participating in 7 sports, was involved in the school’s leadership program, volunteered in her school’s international student program, and helped start the “Best Buddies” club (a club which focuses on creating friendships between students with and without intellectual disabilities).

As Jen Roos her coach with the JBAA Senior Women’s team says, “Caelyn reminds me a lot of Courtney, whom I was fortunate enough to play with at UVIC. While not the biggest on the pitch, Caelyn plays with her heart and soul and the determination of someone three times her size. She is talented yet understated- leading our team with wisdom and commitment.

Said Cory Payne her coach at Esquimalt High School and the JBAA U16 girls team, “For the years that I coached Caelyn, she has been easily one of the most committed players that I have had the honour to coach. Her desire to be better and make the team better gave us the success we had in earning the Provincial school title.

Caelyn has always been reliable. This was especially evident when she had a major injury and still came to practices, games and events. Caelyn continued cheering on her teammates and taking part in any way so she could remain a part of the team. When Caelyn said she would be
somewhere or do something she would. Caelyn has always been eager to help the new players and encourage them to get better. She has a
natural teaching ability and it shows in her patience and acceptance of new players. I’ve leaned on Caelyn to be a leader because of her ability to model the inclusiveness of all players regardless of skill and or experience.

Caelyn has demonstrated her natural leadership and teaching skills these past two seasons while being my assistant coach with the high school team. She was an important role model to the players as well as instructing and guiding the team in all aspects of the game. Caelyn’s attributes
as a player and leader are what made me choose her as a mentor to the high school team. I really admire her approach to leadership and encouragement of all. Esquimalt placed 4th in the Province at last year’s school provincials and I truly believe Caelyn was a large part of that
success because of all the things listed above”.

Jack Vanderpost – Dalhousie University

Free Male Portrait vector and picture

Photo pending

Rugby goals and plans: Fresh onto the rugby scene in my final year of highschool, I quickly found a love for the intensity, athleticism, strategy, and comradery that this sport provides. My willingness to develop, and my prior athletic experience, along with support from teammates and coaches, allowed me to excel in my first season and earn the rookie of the year award. I have had the great fortune to be successful in many athletic endeavours, and I have always appreciated the potential others see in me. I want to pursue my next athletic opportunity and truly believe rugby is exactly what I am looking for. It is my hope to plays many years of rugby, beginning with the Dalhousie University men’s team and perhaps others clubs once I graduate.

While I have had moderate success in the sport thus far, and I understand the rigor and commitment it will take for me to get where I want to be in the world of rugby. Regardless of how this athletic endeavor turns out for me I am just beginning to see how incredible this sport is and I will be sure to encourage those younger than me to try it out sooner than I did.

Says Sean Hammond, Lakefield College School coach, “While Jack was new to the sport of rugby, his athleticism, game sense, and commitment to consistently improving this skills made him a valuable part of our team. Jack found a home in the starting seven rather quickly, using his size and speed to be a consistent threat on both offense and defense. Not only did he lead our team in scoring (averaging 1-2 tries per game), but he also was instrumental in our lineouts where he stole over 80% of the lineouts he jumped in. Jack’s physical contributions on the field, coupled with his understated leadership,
led to his receiving the Rookie of the Year award after a unanimous decision from the coaching staff.

While Jack is definitely new to the sport of rugby, he has great potential to continue to grow in the sport. He has a great background in team sports and now has begun to develop foundational rugby skills that pair well with his overall athleticism. I fully believe that given an opportunity to play rugby at the next level, Jack will prove to be an athlete who can be relied upon for dedication and hard work, and these attributes will help him develop into a strong rugby player at the university level.

 

2023 THOMAS FAMILY AWARDS

The Canadian Rugby Foundation has a number of awards which have been named after deserving people in the rugby community who have made significant contributions to our game.  There is no family more deserving of this honour than the Thomas family.  Their contributions to Canadian Rugby have been more significant than any other in the past.  The Thomas Family’s initial pledge has also encouraged others to give back to the sport they love.

The Thomas family originates from Morriston, a small town in Wales.  As a young engineer, Mr. Thomas decided to emigrate to Canada.  He is, and always has been, very passionate about rugby.  It is for this reason that the family decided to make this significant pledge to support the Foundation as a way of saying thank you to a country and sport that has given so much joy to the entire family.  As a way of thanking the Thomas family for their extreme generosity to the Foundation and all of the various rugby projects they have supported over the years, the Foundation presents the Thomas  Family Scholarship to be distributed annually to one or Canadian student playing the great game of rugby.

Matthew Amyotte – University of Alberta

Matthew Amyotte

My name is Matthew Amyotte. I am a 21-year-old fourth year student in a dual degree of Kinesiology and Education with a 3.3 GPA at the University of Alberta. I am a great candidate for the Thomas Family Award. Being involved in rugby since I was 11, I have had a lot of accomplishments, for example, playing U18 Team Canada for both 15’s and 7’s. I demonstrate my passion for rugby in every practice and game I partake in, whether it’s as a coach or a player.

Volunteering is a big part of my life. I volunteer at different events involving youth, including being in a classroom and coaching rugby. Through my experiences in the classroom, I have learned how to connect with kids of all backgrounds. Being a volunteer coach has been
rewarding because it has given me an opportunity to give back to not only the community, but also my club and the game that has given me so much.

My future goals as a player is to be a leader on the University of Alberta team and ultimately represent Canada at a senior men’s level. My goals as a coach and educator are to ensure every child has a chance to reach their full potential. My favourite part of coaching and
teaching is getting to know the children and being able to connect with them. Seeing them have fun, grow, and develop different skills that will help them succeed not only in rugby, but in life, is rewarding.

Laryssa Atamanchuk – University of Alberta

Laryssa Atamanchuk

Laryssa Atamanchuk is a first-year student at the University of Alberta who exhibits many qualities for this award.

As captain for the past two seasons of my school rugby team, I worked with my team to promote inclusion. Over half of our team were new to the sport, it was important to introduce them to each other and the game. I made sure to always build my team up; Conversations included me sharing things to accomplish during games, not criticizing any mistake players make. I had them create goals they wanted to work on achieving while playing, and would check with them after to emphasize how they can develop. I was fortunate to make the UofA rugby team and continue playing, and will stay involved through a club team both playing and volunteering my time.

I have been a soccer coach within the community for many years where I can share my passion for the sport with them. I have worked extremely hard for my education and learning. I plan to complete my undergraduate arts degree, then further my education in law school. My
goal is to inspire individuals to become leaders and while being a role model to look up to.

Sam Eiffler – Capilano University

Sam Eiffler

I believe I am the right candidate for the Thomas Family scholarship, as I embody the values and tenets of Mr. Grenville Thomas and of Canadian Rugby.

I discovered my passion for the sport in my senior year of high school at Sutherland Secondary, forming the first team since Covid-19 restrictions shut down the sport. It was a rough season, but introduced me to rugby, and I signed up immediately after for the Capilano RFC Men’s team. I quickly found a community and club that pushed me to grow as a player and a person, and I continue to develop as I play second row for the Men’s Premier Reserve team.

The Thomas Family scholarship would enable me to pursue academic studies and work towards a future in the city planning or legal department. Like Mr. Thomas, I understand the importance of community around rugby, as I’ve returned after graduating to help coach the Sutherland team.

Academically, I ended my first fall term in Good Academic Standing with a 3.78 GPA.

Going forward, I hope to fund and continue my schooling with a bachelor’s degree and a masters in law or city planning, while playing second row for the Capilanos, as my grandfather did before me.

 Sophie McDonald – University of Ottawa

Sophie McDonald

I started playing rugby for my high school in Grade 10. Before then I didn’t know what the sport was, and what it could do for me. I went to my first practice and realized that I had found a new love for a sport that I didn’t know existed 24 hours prior. Unfortunately, our high school was not big enough to field a team and I felt like I lost something. A few years later, I was presented with the opportunity to try out for the University of Ottawa Gee Gees Women’s Rugby team. I was brought on and now two years later I look back at how far I’ve come as an athlete and more importantly as a person.

The effort that everyone on this team puts in, on and off the field is amazing to me. The rugby community is one like none other. It is one of the most accepting groups I’ve ever been a part of. Our team is committed to advocating for many social issues like the LGBTQ+ community, Black Lives Matter, and indigenous peoples of Canada. Our goal is to use our platform to create a safer and more inclusive community. The diversity and inclusion that the rugby community allows is very impactful. To become an athlete it is important to feel represented. Rugby is more than just a sport, it is a family.

Lane Morency – University of Ottawa

Lane Morency

I firmly believe that I would be an excellent candidate for the Thomas Family Award because I feel that I can be looked on as an excellent student and an outstanding citizen in the rugby community. I am a decorated athlete both in high school sports and extra-curricular sports, I was a model student during my time at LaSalle Secondary School receiving numerous awards at graduation and running student council for two years, and I was constantly volunteering and working hard to ensure that I played my part within my community to make it an amazing place
to live and play sports.

Throughout my years in the sport of rugby I have had countless amazing experiences, including participating in OFSAA, experiencing my first university training session, and playing my first Men’s game. Yet, despite all these enriching moments none of them compared to the experience of sharing the pitch with both of my brothers this summer, playing the game we all love. Rugby runs deep in the blood of all three of us having had our mother play in her university days, so I am passionate about continuing to stay active in the sport. I look forward to my brothers and parents rooting for me in my new colors of garnet and grey next year as I will continue my rugby journey at The University of Ottawa, taking everything, I learned from my high school team and my local Kinston Panthers Rugby Club with me.

 

2024 Canadian University Coaching Awards Announced

The following 11 Men’s and Women’s University Rugby Coaches have been selected to the 2024 cadre attending the Crusaders International Academy Accelerator Coaching program from May 20 through May 31, 2024 in Christchurch New Zealand. Each will have their program fees plus room and board paid, and travel costs subsidized. These coaches follow the group of 7 coaches who went to the Crusaders program last year.

SELECTED COACHES

Selected by the Canadian Rugby Foundation and funded by its University Rugby Supporters Fund and For the Love of the Game are:

  1. Simon Chi, Head Coach, University of Calgary Women’s Rugby
  2. James Flemming, Head Coach, University of Ottawa Men’s Rugby
  3. Chris Jones, Head Coach, McMaster University, Women’s Rugby
  4. Jessie-Ann Gibson, Assistant Coach, University of Guelph Women’s Rugby
  5. Jessica Joubarne, Assistant Coach, Carleton University Women’s Rugby
  6. Zak Scovoranski, Assistant Coach, Mount Royal University Men’s Rugby
  7. Lancelot Satge, Head Coach, University of Montreal Men’s Rugby
  8. Jay Shaw, Head Coach, University of Waterloo Women’s Rugby
  9. Brent Wood, Assistant Coach, University of Calgary Men’s Rugby

and selected by the BC Rugby Union and funded by the Gerald McGavin Coaching Award Fund of the Canadian Rugby Foundation are:

  1. Darcy Patterson, Assistant Coach, University of British Columbia Women’s Rugby
  2. Jon Mergui, Assistant Coach, University of British Columbia Men’s Rugby

Congratulations to all eleven coaches!

PROGRAM DETAILS

The Canadian Rugby Foundation University Coaching Award is an initiative of the Foundation’s University Rugby Supporters Fund to further develop university-level coaches’ program leadership, coaching expertise and technical ability. The focus of this initiative is on university coaches as we and our lead donors believe the men’s and women’s university rugby pathway is critical to the success of our senior teams and programs. The major goals of this award are for the coaches to 1) continue to develop their coaching careers and credentials, 2)  use their learnings to enhance the technical skills of their university student-athletes and coaching colleagues, and 3) share that information with rugby coaches in their local and provincial rugby communities.
This award is administered by members of the Foundation’s University Rugby Initiative committee consisting of Mike Holmes, Doug Tate, Dave Lougheed, Colette McAuley, and Jeff Chan.
What the Award Entails:
Eligible coaches are head or assistant coaches with a CUMRC-eligible Men’s Rugby program or a U SPORTS Women’s Rugby program with their World Rugby Level 2 Coaching Certification completed or committed, and we will be working to get their Level 3 training and certification accelerated. The selected coaches attend a 13-day program at the home of Crusaders Rugby in Christchurch, NZ (https://crusaders.co.nz/) Nine university coaches selected by the Foundation, and two selected by the BCRU will join 14 international coaches in a program organized by the Crusaders International Academy. The Crusaders are widely regarded as New Zealand’s top Super Rugby club (7 consecutive championships through June 2023), furnishing multiple players to the All Blacks, and most recently the All Blacks head coach Scott ‘Razor’ Robertson.
S&C Initiative
On a side note is another initiative from the University Rugby Initiative related to Strength & Conditioning that Dave Lougheed and “For the Love of the Game” is leading. Although the varsity rugby programs at many of the universities in Canada have excellent support from their Athletics department, the same cannot be said for the majority of teams.
With the goal of making Canada’s national rugby teams among the fittest in the world, we will be embarking on a pilot with Men’s and Women’s university rugby teams to establish a national strength & conditioning and fitness tracking system using TeamBldr which many teams are already familiar with, and to provide access to third-party S&C experts where university resources aren’t available. Tracking results will of course be available for each team, but will also used for talent identification and an indicator of commitment to improving and maintaining fitness by Rugby Canada for its national age-grade and senior teams. More details will come as details are ironed out.

For the Love of the Game Joins the Foundation to Create a New Endowment Fund

The For the Love of the Game Fund at the Canadian Rugby Foundation was established in January 2024 to act as the endowment fund for the registered not-for-profit organization “For the Love of the Game Experience Ltd.” founded in 2015 by former Canadian international Dave Lougheed. The mission of For the Love of the Game is to “inspire excellence through experience for athletes, coaches and their passionate supporters”.

For the Love of the Game has already partnered with the Foundation on a number of initiatives including sponsorship of the Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship and the Canadian University Coaching Awards and continues to support initiatives through the Canadian Rugby Foundation that align with its mission, vision and values.

Please visit www.fortheloveofthegame.info for more information about For the Love of the Game.

2023 Lt. Colonel W.D.C. Holmes Awards

The third annual Lt. Colonel W.D.C. Holmes Awards were  presented at the awards banquets at the U SPORTS Women’s Rugby Championship in Victoria, BC and the Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship in Langley, BC.

The Lt. Colonel W.D.C. Holmes Awards are presented by Foundation Chair Michael Holmes in memory of his late father Lt. Colonel W.D.C. Holmes, who won the sword of honour at RMC in 1942 before embarking on a distinguished career in the British Army during and after World War II.

A total of 16 rugby student-athletes from the qualifying women’s and men’s rugby teams were recognized for their off-field contributions to the game of rugby at their university and community in the past year, with their tuition accounts or Athletic Financial Awards (AFAs) enhanced with $500 cheques from the Canadian Rugby Foundation’s W.D.C. Holmes Award Fund. Examples of factors to be considered could include organizing community events involving the team, mentoring younger players, volunteering with their home rugby club or at the community in which the university is located, volunteering as a club executive or an official at any level, and providing off-the-field leadership on the university team.

November 2, 2023 – Women’s Rugby

The following women’s rugby student-athletes were honoured at the 2023 U SPORTS Women’s Rugby championships hosted by the University of Laval (Colette McAuley, Canadian Rugby Foundation Board member shown making the presentations):

GUELPH – Emily Clark

Year: 4, Program: Marketing Management, Hometown: Mississauga, ON

Emily is an exceptional athlete that has been identified for both 15s and 7s at the National level. Her contribution to the program on and off the field with community and youth programs is indicative of her passion for the game.

LAVAL – Corinne Frechette

Year: 4, Program: Sports Intervention, Hometown: Nicolet, QC

Au-delà de ses performances comme athlète, Corinne s’implique dans la promotion du rugby et sport aux filles de la région. Dans la dernière année, elle a travaillé avec Fillactive, un organisme visant à promouvoir l’activité physique chez les filles de 12 à 17 ans. En plus de cela, elle aidé à coordonner les activités de l’Académie Rouge et Or pour des jeunes de 6 à 17 ans à l’été 2023 en plus d’être entraîneure-chef de l’équipe de rugby du Cégep Limoilou à l’automne dernier.

QUEEN’S – Siobhan Sheerin

Year: 5 , Program: Arts & Science, Hometown: Toronto, ON

Siobhan is the heart and soul of our program – she is the kind of teammate that will push you to be your best every single session.

I couldn’t think of a more worthy recipient from our squad.

OTTAWA – Teri Davis Ewan

Year: 2, Program: Sociology, Hometown: Mississauga, ON

Teri Davis Ewan, is a second year student-athlete currently taking sociology and part of the University of Ottawa’s women’s rugby team. She is originally from Mississauga, Ontario where she graduated from Streetsville Secondary School. In her community, she worked at an early child development daycare where every day aiding toddlers in their cognitive development while also keeping their constantly fleeting minds entertained. She has continued to work with young children and finds it very fulfilling working with kids and supporting crucial development at such a young age. Teri is a constant supporting force in university and club rugby, bringing big smiles and positive energy to every practice and game no matter her role within the team.

St Francis Xavier – Katherine Culligan

Year: 4, Program: Health Sciences, Hometown: Halifax, NS

Katherine is a co-captain of our team and was the 2023 recipient of the AUS Student-Athlete Community Service Award. She is a three-time U SPORTS academic all-Canadian, and volunteers her time both on and off campus, running an Intro to Rugby clinic in Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation in northeastern Nova Scotia and running a family literacy program through the Antigonish County Adult Learning Association at the local public library.

She has also been involved with fundraisers for KidsFirst Antigonish, a non-for-profit organization supporting women and children in need, and she has volunteered time helping coach the Halifax Tars Rugby Club minis program. On campus, Culligan is president of the STFX Health Society which she has volunteered with in each of her four years at the university. She is the co-chair and student-athlete representative for X-Women rugby on the STFX Athletics Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. A member of the Elite Leaders program with the STFX Leadership Academy, she has volunteered weekly at the STFX Learn to Skate program for the past two years, and she led a clothing drive across campus as part of an X-Women rugby alumnus’ initiative.

UBC – Payton McNeill

Year: 5, Program: Kinesiology, Hometown: St. Albert, AB

Payton is a deserving student athlete for this award. She provides countless volunteer hours running the Vancouver Thunderbird mini program out of the University of British Columbia. She builds the curriculum, provides guidance and mentorship to other mini coaches, coaches and organizes jamborees/play days. She is instrumental in building a community culture where these mini players attend UBC home games and engage in on field half time shows. Payton is also a strong leader in Indigenous education participating in this work within the UBC Women’s Rugby Program and beyond.

UPEI – Mia Fradsham

Year: 5 , Program: BSc., Hometown: Marshfield, PE.

Mia plays the scrum half position and was a co-captain of the Panther this season. This is well-deserved recognition as she is one of the most dedicated Panthers I have and has been very active within her community to help grow the game at the grass roots level.  Mia dedicates almost all of her spare time to rugby, whether it’s as a player or coach.

Mia is involved in rookie and junior rugby on PEI.  She volunteers her time coaching with the Charlottetown RFC rookie rugby program, the Charlottetown Rural High School AAA girls team, helped coach the girls PEI U17 Abbies at the Atlantic Championships and has been assisting at the Canada Games 7’s training sessions.

 VICTORIA – Morgan Warner

Year: 5, Program: Political Science, Hometown: Lacombe, AB

Morgan is a 5th year student graduating this year with a degree in Political Science.  Morgan has been an incredible teammate during her years at UVIC, giving back to the team, university and community. She is involved in rugby at the high school level and community level, looking to make rugby more inclusive for people with mixed abilities and young female athletes. At the university Morgan took on a fundraising role and worked with all the varsity teams to raise money for the Vikes Championship Breakfast. Morgan is very deserving of this award and we cannot wait to see what she does next.

November 16, 2023 – Men’s Rugby

 The following rugby student-athletes were honoured at the 2023 Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship (CUMRC) hosted by Trinity Western University in Langley, BC (Mike Holmes shown making the presentations):

CALGARY – Zane Clark

Year: 4, Program: Arts, Hometown: Calgary, AB

Zane has quickly asserted himself as an integral part of our club culture and executive. While Zane has always been a contributor on the field, he unfortunately suffered a concussion early in the year which cut his season short. Zane turned this into an opportunity for him to quickly become one of our most important members. Zane does everything behind the scenes that makes our program a success. Whether it be booking travel, dealing with the logistics of organizing a large club or just filing paperwork with the school, Zane takes on every job, no matter how difficult or non-glamorous it might be and tackles it with incredible enthusiasm.

 GUELPH – Adam Ford

Year: 4, Program: Marketing Management, Hometown: Rockwood, ON

Adam has grown into a tremendous leader for our program serving on our leadership team and as one of the forward captains. As a local to Guelph, Adam has grown up playing for the Guelph Rugby Club and has recently began coaching at the U18 level and his former high school JF Ross, hoping to help players like him fall in love with rugby and follow in his footsteps.

MEMORIAL – Simbarashe Mandoza

Year: 4, Program: Engineering, Hometown: Harare, Zimbabwe

Simbarashe came to Memorial as a result of an exchange of Tweets, having played on the Zimbabwe U20 team. This year he represented Memorial as part of Engineers Without Borders, and in addition works with, and cares for autistic children.

 OTTAWA – Ali Awada

Year: 3, Program: Criminology, Hometown: Ottawa, ON

This athlete has been selected for his contributions to the local rugby community through officiating. Often, Ali is asked to officiate junior/2XV games before he plays his own club games; and at uOttawa he steps in to ref our 2XV matches throughout the year. Additionally, Ali is a standing member in our leadership group at uOttawa.

 QUEEN’S – Eric Godden

Year: 5, Program: MSc Electrical & Computer Engineering, Hometown: Toronto, ON

Eric is our Captain this season and has played on the first team since his first year. He has been a member of our leadership group for the past three years. He is an outstanding leader, rugby athlete and an incredibly mature young man. This year Eric spearheaded our indigenous engagement initiative which consisted of education session for the team with our indigenous initiatives department and we engaged a local Mohawk artist to design a jersey for us based of our values. This jersey was worn for our game v Guelph which was on the day of truth and reconciliation, and these jerseys were then auctioned with all profits going to the Quinte Mohawk School meal program. This program is ongoing with the athletes led by Eric going to engage with the local community starting with the Quinte Mohawk school.

TWU – Fynn Murphy

Year: 3, Program: Human Kinetics , Hometown: South Surrey, BC

In being such a student of the game, Fynn Murphy not only gives his time to his teammates and his program, but he is also able to share his knowledge and love of the game by coaching the D.W. Poppy Secondary Junior Boys team, training his team 3 times a week, along with games from January to June. He also has been lending his wealth of knowledge to the D.W. Poppy Rugby Academy. Fynn was also an outstanding leader in the TWU Rugby Program’s Mission Trip to Paraguay last Spring.

UBC – Relmu Wilson-Valdes

Year: 3, Program: Kinesiology, Hometown: Nelson, BC

Relmu has proven to be an outstanding assistant coach for Grade 9 students at St. Georges, exhibiting noteworthy qualities in his role. His proactive approach in following up with both coaches and athletes underscores his commitment to the young athletes. Notably, he has displayed clarity, patience, and inclusivity in his coaching style, contributing to a positive and supportive environment for the team.

VICTORIA – Andrew Easson

Year: 6, Program: Geography, Hometown: Oakville, ON

Andrew has been an unbelievable team captain for his last year as a Vike and consistently demonstrates all of the characteristics you would want to see from your program’s leader. A moment that stands out is when our first years joined us for the first day of camp this year, Andrew made a point to go and greet each one and introduce himself. Andrew is the first to volunteer when we need support, and has also organized a number of community initiatives over his university career. On the field, Andrew is the type of rugby player that through relentless effort, makes every player around him better. Although Andrew leaves us this year, through his leadership he has made an impact on this program that will be felt for a long time to come.

Maria Samson Appointed Chair of the Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship

As previously announced on November 16 at the 2023 Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship banquet, Maria Samson has been appointed the Chair of the CUMRC Organizing Committee effective January 1, 2024.

Maria joined the CUMRC Board in January 2020 while she was still head coach for the Mount Royal University (MRU) Men’s Rugby team, and a member of the Rugby Canada Board of Directors. She was a highly decorated member of the Canadian Senior Women’s team as the 2012 Women’s XVs Rugby Canada Player of the Year and a 2014 Rugby World Cup Silver medalist. She also counts time with the McGill University Martlets, SABRFC, Windsor Rogues, Fort McMurray Knights, Alberta Wolfpack, Calgary Hornets and Calgary Saints, as well as travelling teams the Dog River Howlers, Stars Rugby and Canadian Classics.

Since joining the CUMRC Board, Maria has also served as Vice Chair of Rugby Canada, and only retired as the MRU head coach following their 2023 playoff run. Her CUMRC duties kept expanding and included her roles as our social media creator, broadcast commentator, Instagram interviewer and tournament director at the 2022 and 2023 championships, our rules and regulations head, and beginning in 2023, CUMRC Vice Chair.

Maria takes the reins from Jeff Chan, the current Chair and co-founder of the CUMRC in 2017. As has been recounted numerous times, in 2015-16, Jeff had been frustrated by the lack of a national university championship in Men’s Rugby which led to all university programs eending their schedules after their conference championships. Working with fellow co-founders Mike Holmes of the Canadian Rugby Foundation, which became the lead CUMRC financial sponsor, Doug Tate, the long-time head coach of the University of Victoria Vikes, and Bishop’s University rugby alumnus Keith Labbett, the foundation was laid at the inaugural 6-team tournament hosted by the University of Guelph in 2017. Except for the 2020 COVID year, the CUMRC has met all but one of its goals:

  1. grown (from 29 to 33 teams competing to qualify, and 8 teams in the tournament);
  2. helped develop the calibre and depth of university men’s players and programs across the country;
  3. been recognised as a crucial step in the pathway towards Canada’s Men’s senior team; and
  4. established and maintained the national university men’s rugby championship.

The lone exception is gaining the endorsement of Men’s Rugby by U SPORTS as an official sport, (as is the case for Women’s Rugby) and as it has been the case with the OUA and RSEQ conferences for many years. This remains a work in progress by Rugby Canada.

It is now time for the CUMRC to take another step in its evolution, with Maria taking the lead, working with the University of Ottawa as the 2024 host, coordinating the University Men’s Rugby Coaches Association, and working with the Canadian Rugby Foundation’s University Rugby Supporters Fund to continue to develop university Rugby Coaches across Canada.

Good luck Maria!

8 University Men’s Rugby Coaches Now Selected for Advanced Coaching Courses in New Zealand and Wales

We are happy to report that the following 7 university men’s rugby coaches have been selected to attend the first Crusaders course to be held LIVE in 3 years in Christchurch, NZ.

  • Scott Manning (U Victoria)
  • Andy Evans (Trinity Western U)
  • Nick “Vinny” McAuley (U Calgary)
  • Ian McLeod (Western U)
  • Jamie Mackenzie (Laurier U)
  • Ian Baillie (McGill U)
  • Pat B. Parfrey (Memorial U)

The eighth coach, Curry Hitchborn from UBC, will pursue a coaching experience in Wales this summer.

 

Curry and Scott’s attendance (course fee, accommodations, and air travel) is funded through the Canadian Rugby Foundation’s Gerald McGavin Coaching Award Fund, selected by the BC Rugby Union.
Andy, Vinny, Ian M., Jamie, Ian B., and Pat’s attendance (course fee and accommodation) are funded through the Canadian Rugby Foundation’s University Rugby Supporters’ Fund, with air travel subsidized by Dave Lougheed’s “For the Love of the Game” charity, and selected by a sub-committee consisting of Doug Tate, Mike Holmes, and Dave Lougheed.
This initiative is consistent with 1) the belief that Men’s University Rugby is an essential keystone for the improvement of men’s rugby in Canada, and the advancement of the national men’s team’s performance, just as Women’s University Rugby has been proven to be essential to the Senior Women’s 15s performance on the world stage; and 2) that improved coaching in university men’s rugby is a critical step towards improving the depth and calibre of Canadian university men’s rugby and hence, the Canadian men’s senior team.
The Crusaders course will take place from May 22 to June 2 at Crusaders Rugby Park, Christchurch, New Zealand.  This year’s coaches will be expected to share their learning with other university and club coaches in their regions following the camp, so be on the lookout for them.
Dependent on funding, and the success of this year’s initiative, we will work towards a repeat in 2024 with a new group of coaches.
Good luck to our Canadian contingent of coaches this summer, and to all of the University Men’s Rugby teams in the coming 2023 season, playoffs, and road to the 2023 CUMRC in Langley, BC on November 15-19.
Jeff Chan
Executive Director, Canadian Rugby Foundation
Chairman, Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship

Canadian Rugby Foundation Newsletter – January 2023

In this issue of the Canadian Rugby Foundation Newsletter, “News & Views”, we have updates since the June 2022 Newsletter. Click here to read the complete Newsletter.

The headlines are as follow:

  • Foundation News and Announcements

 

  •  Funds News

 

  • Unrestricted Fund News

 

  • 2022 Awards News

 

  • Donation Appeal and Contact

 

 

 

As always, we look forward to hearing from you – whether rugby club executives or members, donors, representatives of our 69 Funds, rugby players of all ages and levels, and dedicated or casual rugby union fans – with your questions, suggestions, or other feedback.

Cheers,

Jeff Chan

2022 CANADIAN UNIVERSITY MEN’S RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP RECAP

 

December 4 saw the finale of the 2022 Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship (CUMRC) brought to you by Raymond James and Lougheed Wealth Management. Once again, the UBC Thunderbirds were victorious, winning their fourth championship in five years, and defeating the McGill Redbirds convincingly in the Gold medal match 48-5.

This year’s tournament was hosted by the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC from November 30-December 4.  34 teams competed this year to qualify for the CUMRC through their conference or regional leagues, an increase of 17 per cent from the inaugural 2017 tournament. Eight teams from all regions of Canada won the right to compete at the CUMRC. Returning from 2021 were UBC, UVic, Calgary and Guelph with Trinity Western, Laurier, McGill and Memorial joining them this year.

RESULTS

The results from the twelve matches played over three days follow.  All matches were streamed on The Rugby Network (Links shown):

Quarter-finals

  • TWU 23, Uvic 22 – https://www.therugbynetwork.com/videos/2022-canadian-universities-mens-rugby-championship-quarterfinal-uvic-vs-twu-replay
  • Guelph 28, Memorial 22 – https://www.therugbynetwork.com/videos/2022-canadian-universities-mens-rugby-championship-quarterfinal-guelph-vs-memorial-replay
  • UBC 53, Calgary 0 – https://www.therugbynetwork.com/videos/2022-canadian-universities-mens-rugby-championship-quarterfinal-ubc-vs-calgary-replay-1
  • McGill 23,  Laurier 22 – https://www.therugbynetwork.com/videos/2022-canadian-universities-mens-rugby-championship-quarterfinal-laurier-vs-mcgill-replay-1

 Consolation Semi-finals

  • UVic 36, Laurier 12 -https://www.therugbynetwork.com/videos/uvic-vs-laurier-2022-canadian-university-mens-rugby-consolation-semifinal-replay
  • Memorial 29, Calgary 14 – https://www.therugbynetwork.com/videos/guelph-vs-ubc-2022-canadian-university-mens-rugby-championship-semifinal-replay

 Championship Semi-finals

  • UBC 37, Guelph 17 – https://www.therugbynetwork.com/videos/guelph-vs-ubc-2022-canadian-university-mens-rugby-championship-semifinal-replay
  • McGill 17, Trinity Western 11 -https://www.therugbynetwork.com/videos/mcgill-vs-twu-2022-canadian-university-mens-rugby-championship-semifinal-replay

 Final Day

  • 7 vs. 8:Calgary 20, Laurier 12 -https://www.therugbynetwork.com/videos/2022-canadian-university-mens-rugby-consolation-final-7v8-live-replay
  • 5 vs. 6: UVic 52 , Memorial 15 – https://www.therugbynetwork.com/videos/2022-canadian-university-mens-rugby-consolation-final-5v6-live-replay
  • Bronze medal:Guelph 32, TWU 31 – https://www.therugbynetwork.com/videos/2022-canadian-university-mens-rugby-championship-bronze-medal-match-replay
  • Gold medal:UBC 48, McGill 5 – https://www.therugbynetwork.com/videos/2022-canadian-university-mens-rugby-championship-final-replay

Finishing Results

  • 8th: Laurier Golden Hawks
  • 7th: Calgary Dinos
  • 6 th: Memorial Seahawks
  • 5th: UVic Vikes
  • 4th: Trinity Western Spartans
  • Bronze medal: Guelph Gryphons
  • Silver medal: McGill Redbirds
  • Gold medal: UBC Thunderbirds


Bob Frid/UBC

Bob Frid/UBC Athletics)

(Bob Frid/UBC Athletics)

Photos from the tournament can be seen here

At the 2022 CUMRC Awards banquet on December 3,  eight players – one from each team – were presented with the Lt. Col. W.D.C. Holmes Award recognizing their contributions to the game of rugby off-the-field. Full story.

Also at the banquet, the inaugural Liam Geddes Memorial Award was presented to Relmu Wilson-Valdes of UBC as the outstanding back-row player in the tournament. Full story

And finally, the McGill University Redbirds were named as the second winners of the Jeff Chan Spirit of Rugby Team Award. The Redbirds were selected by the Toronto Arrows selection panel, the tournament officials, and the CUMRC Board, based on their demonstration of the spirit, values, and culture of the game of rugby including respect for their opponents and the officials, competitiveness, good sportsmanship, and community building over the course of the CUMRC tournament.

 
Gabi Saini/UBC

Following the tournament, the First and Second Team All Stars were announced.

SPONSORS

The 2022 CUMRC Tournament had the generous support of the following sponsors:

  • Title sponsor: Raymond James
  • Presenting sponsor: Lougheed Wealth Management – Raymond James
  • Sustaining sponsors: The Canadian Rugby Foundation, Langara Fishing Adventures, Pemberton-Holmes, Toronto Arrows, and Michael Holmes.
  • All Stars sponsor: Toronto Arrows
  • Game Sponsors: “For the Love of the Game”
  • Player of the Game Sponsors: University of British Columbia
  • Official Tournament Balls provided by: Gilbert Canada
  • Continuing supporter: Rugby Canada
  • Host university: University of British Columbia
  • Host university sponsors: Sport Tourism Vancouver, VIA Sport, and the Province of British Columbia, Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre Hotel

2023 CUMRC

 

 

The 2023 CUMRC returns to British Columbia November 15-19 hosted by Trinity Western University in Langley, BC. See you next year!

 

SAMANTHA REBITT WINS 2022 COURTNEY TAAFFE AWARD

We are pleased to announce the winner of the 2022 Courtney Taaffe Award is Samantha Rebitt.

Samantha is a second-year student at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, pursuing a double major in Biology and Environmental Science. She currently plays scrum half for the Dalhousie Women’s club team, but her ties to rugby start on Vancouver Island, in BC.

Samantha grew up in the Comox Valley, attending GP Vanier high school, where her love for rugby began. She joined the Vanier rugby team in grade 9, and her passion for the sport grew over her high school years, turning her into a captain of the senior girls’ rugby team. Currently she keeps up with the sport by not only playing for Dal, but also by returning to help coach the Vanier girls’ rugby team when she is back on the island.

Besides rugby, Samantha enjoys many other sports including mountain biking and volleyball. She is also a member of the Rotaract Club of Halifax, helping give back to her community, and is passionate about the environment and nature.

Currently, her future plans include either conservation ecology or teaching, spending lots of time in nature, and of course, continuing to be involved in the rugby community.

Samantha would like to thank everyone involved in the Canadian Rugby Foundation for their continual devotion to the sport and is extremely honoured and grateful to receive the 2022 Courtenay Taaffe Memorial Award.

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The Courtney Taaffe Award is presented by the Canadian Rugby Foundation (in conjunction with the Charlton L. Smith Foundation and the Taaffe family)

Courtenay Taaffe was vibrant, determined, talented and dedicated; she had endless energy and enthusiasm for her passions in life, one of which was the sport of rugby.  This scholarship was created in 2005 to honour Courtenay’s rugby passion and life achievements.  The successful recipient will share some of the many qualities Courtenay did including a strong work ethic, both in the classroom and on the field, as well as an enthusiastic and determined personality.  She played hooker and flanker for UVic, James Bay, Crimson Tide and Team B.C.  She coached the JBAA junior women, the Vancouver Island Crimson Tide junior women, the Vancouver Island Japan Club team and the Stelly’s Secondary Queen Bees. Courtenay set a precedent for hard work and accomplishment in the sport of women’s rugby. Courtenay passed away at the age of 29 of a rare and aggressive lymphoma.

This scholarship is annually awarded to a female athlete who excels in rugby, academics and community service. It is open to 17-28 year old players/coaches/referees who are pursuing a full-time degree, diploma or certificate program at a Canadian university or college on Vancouver Island. Students commencing or continuing full-time studies in the fall are eligible.

For more information on the Courtney Taaffe Award and Fund, go here: https://canadianrugbyfoundation.ca/index.php/support-a-fund/scholarship/courtenay-taaffe-memorial-scholarship/