The Deacy, Browne, Parfrey Fund was established to help grow and develop rugby in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Fund honours three Newfoundland rugby stars, builders, and leaders – Frank Deacy, Dr. Noel Browne, and Dr. Pat Parfrey.
Francis “Frank” Deacy was the major driving force behind the development of rugby in Newfoundland and Labrador. With a passion unlike any other, his efforts in developing the game of rugby to this province have not gone unnoticed. Frank began his rugby career in Galway, Ireland and went to play as scrum-half for his school, his club, his university and his country.
He came to Newfoundland in 1971 and it was a phone call from friend Noel Browne that got him involved with rugby here in Newfoundland and together they were the founding members of the first Newfoundland and Labrador rugby team in the province which competed in the Montreal 7’s and finished 3rd in 1971 and 2nd in 1972. From that competition he and his Newfoundland squad for the first time went on to compete in the national 15 A-Side Championships. In 1974 they went on to win the Eastern Canadian title and won silver at the national event. In 1973 Frank was teaching in Witless Bay when he received another phone call that would require him to suit up for Canada in a game against Wales which saw two other Newfoundlanders play on that team – Noel Browne and Mike Luke. In the mid 1970’s Frank was one of the founding members of the Newfoundland and Labrador Rugby Union as well as the Swilers Club.
He has dedicated a great deal of time and effort to the sport of rugby as a referee and coach and has also held positions on provincial and national rugby unions. Frank founded the Baymen’s Rugby Club, and even brought women into the game. Starting women’s rugby was a big accomplishment for him but says watching players develop stands out as one of his greatest memories of the game. In 1987 Frank co-coached a junior provincial team and won silver at the national championships. Frank has also been involved with the establishment of an intercity high school rugby league for both boys and girls. Frank resides in Conception Bay South with his wife Marie. He was inducted into the Sport Newfoundland Hall of Fame in 2005.
Frank passed away on Sunday, November 9, 2008, at age 63 yrs.
Dr. Noel Browne
Dr. Noel Browne’s sports escapades have taken place over four decades in Newfoundland and Labrador. He could even be called the godfather of rugby in the province. Noel has been involved in the provincial rugby scene as both an athlete and a builder and we are recognizing him for his contributions to build his sport from its very early days.
While growing up in Ireland, Dr. Browne’s involvement in the sport began as a student at Blackrock College, and then he proceeded on to Galway University until 1966. During these very competitive years, Dr. Browne played for Connaught and the combined Irish Universities Team and also had the privilege of having a trial at the age of 19 for the Irish National Team in 1962 and in representing Connaught through his university days.
In 1966, Dr. Browne moved to Newfoundland, and by 1968 he had generated enough interest in the province to have teams compete in national tournaments. The provincial sides garnered so much attention that, in 1973 three players from Newfoundland (including Dr. Browne) were selected to represent Canada. Dr. Browne also became a permanent fixture on the Senior Provincial rugby teams from 1974-1986. While playing for the national team, Dr. Browne had two opportunities to experience international play, once in 1973 in a match against Wales and again in 1975 against Tonga.
On the builder side of the rugby scene, Dr. Browne was just as involved. On October 20, 1970, he became one of the founding members of the Newfoundland Rugby Union and served on its Board of Directors. In 1975, Noel once again became a founding member, this time it was with the Swilers Rugby Club. Dr. Browne served as this club’s president for the next 20 years. He also spear headed the creation of the first class playing fields and clubhouse that is located on Crosbie Road in St. John’s. Dr. Browne’s other notable accomplishments in the provincial rugby scene include organizing representation to national competitions, the development of the four-club rugby system in the province, and the creation of the junior provincial rugby system. From 1986-1989, Dr. Browne coached the junior provincial representatives, winning a silver medal in 1987.
Dr. Pat Parfrey
There’s not a lot that Pat Parfrey hasn’t accomplished in rugby. He’s brought the sport to prominence in Newfoundland and Labrador, through his work with the Swilers organization and more importantly The Rock provincial team. He’s brought national championships to the province, and taken more players to higher levels and more teams on fantastic trips than many other sports combined. Nationally, he coached the Canadian senior men’s national team back in the late 1990s, taking them to the 1999 World Cup. He also served as the president of Rugby Canada.
In this province, and many others, he is Mr. Rugby. Well, technically because he is a nephrologist (a kidney specialist, that is) and a world-renowned physician, we’ll call him Dr. Rugby. Dr. Pat Parfrey teaches at Memorial University’s medical school and practises in St. John’s. (Memorial University). Partially because of his day job, but because he can also fix what’s wrong with the sport at any given time. In June 2022, Dr. Pat Parfrey was appointed as Deputy Minister, Health Transformation, in the Office of the Executive Council.
Dr. Parfrey has a long and distinguished medical career in Newfoundland and Labrador as a clinical epidemiologist and most recently in playing a key role in the reimagining of health care in the province through his work as co-chair of Health Accord NL.
He 2015 he was selected to represent Canada on the new World Rugby Council and reappointed in 2020. The council — formerly known as the IRB (International Rugby Board) — is the governing body of the sport, and Parfrey is now Canada’s voice on that board. “I’m quite happy to be involved in this,” Parfrey said last week in his office on the campus of Memorial University. “The way it’s sorted out is that Rugby Canada has to select their representative and then they recommend that to World Rugby Council. I was asked a while back, and it was decided upon more recently.” And the position took effect last month.
Based on the history of what he’s accomplished with rugby in the past, expect a lot from the Cork, Ireland native who emigrated to Canada in the early 1980s and eventually settled in St. John’s. It was in the capital city where he built rugby into the sport it is today, putting Newfoundland on the Canadian rugby map. Now he wants to put Canada in that same position on the global scale. “I have a plan that I’m trying to execute and the first part of it is already come through” – Pat Parfrey
Part of that process is to raise money to help build the sport, but another crucial element is to arrange games – or fixtures – for the Canadian team to play, allowing the sport to grow and our nation’s team to improve.
“I have a plan that I’m trying to execute and the first part of it is already come through,” he said, in a rare moment of proud reflection, “because we’ve got a very good 20-game fixture for Canada’s senior men’s team for this coming year, which is something we’ve never had before, and that was partly related to the work that I did.
“So I want now to create that for four years and then for eight years. I understand the aging process is something you’re uncertain about when it’ll kick in when you’ll get more fragile or more demented. If I become either I hope somebody tells me to pack up.”
In the interim, Parfrey is hoping to bring more of a professional approach to the game with the senior men’s team, a venture that will cost approximately $1 million annually to operate. Raising that money – and more – is part of his role.
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