Vancouver, BC – May 23, 2019: Former Canadian national team captain Kelly McCallum was inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday evening, becoming the first ever women’s rugby player to receive the honour. A veteran of two Women’s Rugby World Cups (2002 & 2006) McCallum amassed an impressive 30 caps for the Canadian team and won the national championship with Team BC in 1994.
“We used to do numerous trips to the BC Sports Hall of Fame from our elementary school and I used to be that girl going ‘I wonder if I’ll ever be on the other side‘ while looking at athletes and people who have done remarkable things over the years,” McCallum recalled during an interview with Tom Mayenknecht last year.
Early on, McCallum pursued other sports, captaining the BC women’s water polo team while also swimming competitively and playing soccer for what is now Coastal FC. Showing up late to watch a friend who played his rugby at Douglas College, she stumbled upon the women’s rugby match scheduled afterwards. “I didn’t even know women played rugby at the time,” explained McCallum, who wasted no time getting involved. McCallum quickly rose through the ranks, captaining Douglas to four provincial finals from 1999 to 2002, two of which she won. Throughout her career with Douglas, she received several Outstanding Back and Most Valuable Player Awards and in 2001-2002 became the first woman to be named the BCRU Player of the Year. In inter-union and inter-provincial competition, McCallum was a standout player and captain for both the Fraser Valley and British Columbia. She represented BC over a total of six years, including the 1994 National Championship-winning season. From 2002 to 2008, she played overseas with Richmond (England) and Sydney University (Australia). In 2002-03, she was Richmond’s Outstanding Back and in 2004-05 was the Most Valuable Player. She also found time to coach the Richmond Academy from 2002 to 2004.
McCallum’s first international opportunity arose when she was capped for Canada Women’s XVs in 2001 against the USA, going on to accumulate 30 caps in just six years and playing in two Women’s Rugby World Cups. From 2004 to 2006 she captained the National Women’s XVs team 16 times, and represented Canada with pride and distinction and was an excellent role model for all young women with her dedication to be the best. With her discipline and leadership McCallum was instrumental in building a foundation and culture within the women’s program.
Having already been involved in developing women’s rugby at junior levels, initiating and coaching girl’s rugby at Elgin Park Secondary School in Surrey at the turn of the century, coaching became the next step in McCallum’s career after retiring in 2006. McCallum returned as a coach to Sydney University before going on to coach the Japan national sevens team, investing the same passion, commitment and dedication to fostering new generations of female rugby players as she did in her playing days.
Kelly McCallum has always been an exceptional ambassador for BC and the sport of rugby. This commitment and professionalism, along with her numerous achievements, was recognised in 2015 when she became the first woman to be inducted into BC Rugby Hall of Fame in the player category. Her induction into the BC Sports Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2019 is further recognition of a wonderful rugby talent and champion of the sport.