Vancouver, December 12 2018 – Today the BC Sport Hall of Fame announced that the Canadian Men’s 1991 Rugby World Cup Team will be part of their 2018 Class of Inductees. This is a fantastic piece of recognition for a side that was chock full of BC players, 23 of 26 individuals, and produced Canada’s best ever result in a Rugby World Cup, reaching the Quarter Finals.
The 1991 Canadian Men's Rugby World Cup Team
The Class of ’91 are the stuff of legends in the rugby world, household names for rugby families not just in this country, but around the world, particularly the UK where a number of them consolidated their careers. Looking down the roster, names leap off the page as if someone has constructed a Dream Team of that era. While some of these individuals have already received personal induction into the BC Sport Hall of Fame, it is a particularly proud moment to see this team being recognised for its achievement. At the announcement at BC Place this morning, 14 of the players and staff were present to represent the team. It was an atmosphere of awe and respect as the achievements players, coaches, medical experts and media writers were relayed to the gathered crowd. For those team members who could attend, it was clearly a special moment, not just to be recognised for their achievements in sport, but also to reconnect with their old teammates.
Members of the 1991 Canadian Men's Rugby World Cup team at today's announcement:
Back Row (L-R) - Glen Ennis, David Speirs, Tom Woods, Patrick Palmer, Jeff Knauer, Gareth Rees, Rod Holloway, Steve Gray, John Lecky
Front Row (L-R) - Bill Treloar, Paul Szabo, Roy Radu, John Graf, Mark Wyatt
What is especially noteworthy of this list of players, is how many of them have spent significant chunks of their lives giving back to the sport that we all know and love. Gareth Rees, one of Canada’s most well-known players and the country’s first inductee in the World Rugby Hall of Fame, has been involved in various guises with Rugby Canada. David Speirs dedicate himself to fostering young rugby talent via the BCSSRU, Paul Szabo works tirelessly at Burnaby Lake RFC, while Mark Wyatt coached at Shawnigan Lake and currently serves as president for Westshore Velox RFC. Gary Dukelow was on hand in Dublin this summer as Assistant Coach to the Canadian Women’s XV during the Women’s Rugby World Cup and Patrick Palmer coached the Canadian Men’s Sevens prior to his current role at St George’s School. There’s Eddie Evans, a huge supporter of developing rugby across the province and internationally, past President of BC Rugby John Lecky and Tom Woods, who is heavily involved in developing the youth program at James Bay AA. A sad note rings when the eyes reach the name Norm Hadley. The mountainous forward, cherished by so many, whose passing last year came as a blow to the rugby community across the globe. His absence, still felt by so many, will be hard to overlook at the induction ceremony.
Action from the rain-soaked Quarter Final match in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, France
But these snippets of information will never do these men, or their equally talented and dedicated teammates, justice. Stories of their rugby careers through multiple world cups and their subsequent commitment to the domestic game could fill hundreds of articles, as evidenced by and cursory google search. Today’s announcement, therefore, is a truly fitting celebration of these men and their achievements. Their official induction into the BC Sport Hall of Fame will take place on Thursday, May 31st 2018 at Parq Vancouver. Tickets can be acquired through the BC Sports Hall of Fame website and are available now.
Did You Know?
- Despite losing to New Zealand in the 1991 Quarter Final, after the match, French spectators (numbering approx. 30,000) gave the Canadian Players a standing ovation in recognition of their efforts on the field
- After the 1991 Rugby World Cup, Canada was ranked 8th in the world, the nation’s highest-ever international ranking in the men’s game and one of the highest world rankings ever for a Canadian team in a sport other than ice hockey
- Canada entered the 1991 Rugby World Cup as the only undefeated nation during that year
- Three of the Canadian team, all from BC, were named in the tournament’s World XV team: Dan Jackart, Norm Hadley and Gord McKinnon
- 11 of the players in the 1991 team also took part in the inaugural 1987 Rugby World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. The same number, though not all the same players, would also don the maple leaf jersey four years later in South Africa for the 1995 Rugby World Cup
- Ian Birtwell, who was the Head Coach of the 1991 Canadian team, is being inducted into the BC Rugby Hall of Fame on January 13th 2018? Click here for more information and to secure your tickets
To close, here is the national anthem form the 1991 Rugby World Cup Quarter Final between Canada and New Zealand (highlights are also on YouTube).
The 1991 Canadian Rugby World Cup Team:
Bruce Breen (Meraloma)
Al Charron (Ottawa Irish)
Gary Dukelow (Cowichan)
Glen Ennis (VC) (Kats Rugby Club)
Eddie Evans (UBCOB Ravens)
John Graf (UBCOB Ravens)
Steve Gray (Kats Rugby Club)
Norm Hadley (UBCOB Ravens)
Dan Jackart (UBCOB Ravens)
Jeff Knauer (Meraloma)
John Lecky (Meraloma)
Dave Lougheed (Toronto Welsh)
Gord MacKinnon (Ex Brit Lions)
Patrick Palmer (UBCOB Ravens)
Roy Radu (James Bay AA)
Gareth Rees (Oak Bay Castaways)
John Robertsen (UBCOB Ravens)
David Speirs (Meralomas)
Christian Stewart (Meralomas)
Scott Stewart (UBC)
Karl Svoboda (Ajax Wanderers)
Paul Szabo (Ex Brit Lions)
Chris Tynan (Meraloma)
Ron van den Brink (Kats Rugby Club)
Tom Woods (James Bay AA)
Mark Wyatt (C) (Velox Valhallians)
Ian Birtwell (Head Coach)
Rod Holloway (Forwards Coach)
Mike Luke (Manager)
Mike Basset (Team Doctor)
Bill Treloar (Physiotherapist)