January 25, 2018

Rugby Canada is pleased to announce the 2018 Hall of Fame Inductees who have asserted a great degree of influence, both on and off the pitch, to grow the sport over the last few decades.

This year’s class, who continue to be a who’s who of the Canadian rugby community, include Dr. Ian Birtwell (Builder), Dr. Maria Gallo (Player), Monty Heald (Builder), Ruth Hellerud-Brown (Builder), Spence McTavish (Player/Builder), Douglas ‘Buzz’ Moore (Builder) and Stephanie White (Player).  They will join last year’s inaugural class of Inductees at the Rugby Canada Hall of Fame which will be located in the new Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre when it’s completed in 2018 in Langford, BC.

The Hall of Fame committee had a number of great nominees to consider before approving a group that includes a former men’s head coach, a top builder of the Canadian team, along with key members of the women’s community who have contributed greatly.

The inductees are selected by a committee made up of influential members of the rugby community, including Doug Sturrock as Chair, John Billingsley at Secretary, Alan Sharp, Rick Bourne, Liz Ferguson, Keith Wilkinson and Rick Graham.

The Inductees will be celebrated at the Annual Awards Dinner & Hall of Fame Inductions, which will take place at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre on Thursday, March 8th prior to the HSBC Canada Sevens tournament.  For more details on the dinner and to purchase tickets, visit www.events.rugbycanada.ca.

Dr. Ian Birtwell (Builder)

Immigrating in 1972, Birtwell came to Canada from England having played for Sedgley Park, Kings College, University of London, and Hampstead. He joined the Meraloma Club in Vancouver, but in 1975 repeated injuries stopped him playing and he started coaching. Initially, and over 4 years, he coached his club and representative junior-age teams. Over the next 9 years, he coached senior men’s teams for the club, Vancouver District and British Columbia. At all these playing levels his teams were highly successful and victorious in domestic, national, and international competition.

In 1989 Birtwell was appointed as National Coach of the Senior Men’s Team where he held this position for six years - the longest term of any Canadian National Rugby Team coach to the present day. Dr. Birtwell’s coaching philosophy interpreted the demands and challenges of the international game, and he understood how these had to be met and what skills and strategies to employ and develop. His time of coaching all levels provided an opportunity to hone and verify his methods, and he was ahead of his time in the use of analytics and working alongside sport scientists.

Birtwell and the National team produced positive results, finishing with a record of 22-16 over the course of his six years in charge. Birtwell’s squad for the 1991 Rugby World Cup gave an exceptionally strong showing, losing to New Zealand in the quarter-finals. The team was given a standing ovation based on their inspiring performance in that game and during the competition. The team’s World Cup performance elevated them to a notable top 8 world ranking, the highest achieved by the National Men’s Team. Through Birtwell’s leadership, Canada’s Senior Men’s Team became known internationally as a rugby side which was competitive with the best and one that continuously developed, was strong up front, resourceful behind, and with a brilliantly strong defence. He took Canadian rugby into uncharted territory.

Dr. Maria Gallo (Player)

Maria Gallo began playing rugby at St. James High School in Guelph launching a career that would last fifteen years and take her around the world.

She starred as a member of the Guelph Gryphons from 1996-2000 leading her team to four provincial titles and the inaugural CIAU championship in 1998. She and the Gryphons would win the CIAU silver medal the following season. Both times she was named a tournament all-star and the event’s most valuable player. Gallo was a two-time OUA all-star (1997 & 1998), an All-Canadian in 1998, and Guelph’s Female Athlete of the Year that same year. After graduating from the U of G, she moved to the University of Alberta where she won two more national titles in 2001 and 2003 and was named the Panda’s Female Athlete of the Year and the CIAU Player of the Year in 2002. She did all this while earning her Ph.D. in Muscle Exercise Biochemistry.

Her next stop on the rugby pitch was playing for Canada. She was a vice-captain for several years playing on the national 15’s rugby team from 1999 to 2010. She was a mainstay of the national team playing a total of 55 international caps and in two World Cups – 2002 and 2006. In 2006 she had the second most tries of any player in the event with six. Gallo played with Canada’s national 7’s rugby team from 2008-2010 where again her leadership and dogged determination paid off as she was named team captain leading our country into the 2009 World Cup.

In 2002 and 2003 she filled her winter months as a member of Canada’s Bobsleigh team, finding the power she had developed in rugby was a natural fit when it came to the explosive starts necessary in bobsledding.

Gallo is now the head coach of the UBC Thunderbirds Women’s 7’s and 15’s rugby teams taking the 7’s squad to their first national title in 2016. While at UBC she completed her post-doc in blood doping and in 2010 was elected to the Guelph Gryphon Hall of Fame. She was also inducted into the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame in 2016.

Monty Heald  (Builder)

Born in Derby, England Monty Heald became involved in rugby at Royal Masonic School, in 1949. He played for Derby R.F.C. over a fifteen year period, captaining the team for two years. Immigrating in 1968, Heald played for the Hamilton Hornets from 1968 to 1972. In 1973 the Burlington Centaurs Rugby Club was founded, where Heald became a founding member and the Club’s first captain. Heald’s commitment ultimately earned him Life Member of the Club recognition.

Ending his playing career in 1988, Heald chose to continue his involvement in the sport by maintaining administrative roles at a number of levels. He served the Niagara Union as the Director of the Senior Team, and the Ontario Rugby Union as a selector for two years. In 1981, Heald became a National Selector, chairing the C.R.U. Selection Committee from 1983 to 1994. In 1984 he was appointed as the Manager of the Canadian Sevens team and was elected to the Board of Directors of the Canadian Rugby Union in 1986, serving as Director of The National Team until 1991. In 1991, he was elected as President and served in this capacity for eight years. During his leadership, the Union effected a major change in name to Rugby Canada, leading to the National Union becoming significantly more involved in the activities and programs of the International Rugby Board – or World Rugby as we know it today.

In concluding his term as a Director, Heald’s total years of service to the National Union capped off at 20 years. He continued on as Chair of Rugby Canada’s Past Presidents committee, Chair of the Hall of Fame committee and member of the Annual Awards Committee.  For his endless support and dedication to rugby in Canada, Heald was given the honour of an Honorary Lifetime Member of Rugby Canada in 2013.

Ruth Hellerud-Brown (Builder)

Widely recognized as an architect of the game for women in Canada. A force and a leader on the field in the beginning days of the game, she devoted considerable efforts to expand and raise the level of play in three provinces. Ruth represented the Alberta Rugby Union, Saskatchewan Rugby Union, and BC Rugby Union at National Championships from 1984 to 1993. A member of the 1987 squad, Canada’s first women’s rugby team, Ruth also took on the role of Director of the National Women’s team for that inaugural match. As an international player, she earned 11 caps, captaining the team on 9 of those occasions. Her first and last caps were against the USA in 1987 and 1993.

In British Columbia a once flourishing women’s league had dwindled down to only one in the lower mainland by the late 80’s. This prompted Ruth to establish a women’s team at the Vancouver Rowing Club upon moving to Vancouver - offering up at least one other competitive team.  Once the Rowers were well established Ruth launched another team at the University of British Columbia in 1991 where she was pursuing a second degree. Ruth began her coaching career with UBC Women’s Rugby team and continued to lead the team for three years after which she returned to coaching at the Rowing Club.

She earned her NCCP Level III coaching certification and coached the BCRU Senior Women’s team for many years, being one of the first women to coach a provincial squad to a National Championship. In BC, in particular, her impact on the development of the game for women is indelible and is recognized in the naming of the Senior Women’s premier competition in her name, the Ruth Hellerud-Brown Cup.

Spence G. McTavish (Player/Builder)

McTavish’s high level of performances and record during his rugby career as a club, sub-union, provincial, and national team player is quite remarkable. After a stellar career at UBC, he was a founding member of the UBC Old Boys for whom he played from 1974-1989 and coached them to two provincial titles in 1990 and 1991. He returned to UBC in 1992 and coached there until 2014.  

Having not yet been selected for BC, McTavish was chosen to represent Canada against Fiji in 1970 and by 1987 had become both BC’s and Canada’s longest-serving player of international standing. He scored a try in his first ever game and seventeen years later was in the lineup for two of Canada’s three appearances in the very first Rugby World Cup. McTavish’s 22 international appearances for Canada from 1970-1987 were remarkable considering that only one other Canadian player has had the equivalent longevity on the national team. His ability as a leader was verified by his captaincy for two of four overseas tours made by Canada. On the 1979 Wales, England, France tour, he played in all six games and was captain of two. McTavish’s talent was recognized overseas by his selection to the Irish Wolfhounds in 1973 and in 1976 to the Overseas XV against Cardiff.

McTavish’s record in the fifteen-a-side game almost parallels his exploits in the seven-a-side version. During his three years in the Hong Kong Sevens, McTavish was also captain. From 1994-1998 he returned to the 7’s game, coaching Canada’s National 7’s team, including the 1997 Rugby World Cup and the 1998 Commonwealth Games. Believing that one should lead by example, McTavish provided ample evidence during his outstanding career for others to emulate.

Douglas “Buzz” Moore (Builder)

Douglas Moore, known to most as "Buzz", moved to Vancouver from Regina in 1925 at age 4. His time at Vancouver’s Lord Byng High School allowed Buzz to excel at football, skiing, and rugby. Showing much promise in rugby, he joined the Meraloma Rugby Club at age 16 and began playing for the senior side. During a prolific senior rugby career that lasted twenty-eight years, he was awarded the Howie McPhee Memorial Trophy as Vancouver’s outstanding rugby player.

Buzz captained both the BC and Canada sides in 1948 until 1962 against Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, USA, Japan and Fiji. At 42, he led Canada on a three-month long tour of Great Britain during which his side took on the famed Barbarian Club.  A 3-3 tie resulted after which Buzz was presented with one of rugby’s highest awards, “Honorary Barbarian”.

Buzz retired from play in 1965 following a Canadian Rugby Championship with BC. Throughout his career he held various administrative roles including Coach and President of the Meraloma RFC, President of the BC Rugby Union, and President of the Vancouver Rugby Union from 1954-1966. In 1967 he was inducted as a builder into the BC Sports Hall of Fame and in 1975 was awarded the Jack Patterson Memorial Trophy.  Buzz joined the UBC Athletics department in 1964 and was consistently involved there until his death in 2011. Buzz was inducted into the UBC Sports Hall of Fame in 1995 and received an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University in 2002.

Stephanie White (Player)

A forefront for women’s rugby, White chose to take up the game in 1980. She was active in the administration of Women’s rugby for the province of Alberta while being a trailblazer on the field of play. She was the Captain of the First Canadian Women’s Rugby team in 1987 and 0represented Canada in the early years before being appointed Co-Captain of Canada’s first World Cup Team in 1991. In 1994, she Captained the team at the Second Women’s Rugby World Cup and continued her involvement with the National team participating in two Canada Cup competitions.  She also captained the first participating Canadian women’s team at the Hong Kong Sevens invitational tournament in 1997. White retired from Representative Rugby in 1997 and earned a total of 17 caps in 10 years of play.

Along with her distinguished playing career, White devoted years to the growing women’s rugby in Canada. Some of her major contributions include being a director on the Alberta Women’s Rugby Union; Director of Women’s Rugby on the Board of Directors for Rugby Alberta in the late 1980’s; was the Women’s Players representative at the Rugby Canada Strategic Planning session in 1995.  She sat on the B.C. Rugby Union Board of Directors and helped bring the West Coast Women’s Rugby Association into the BCRU in the early 2000’s and served on the Rugby Canada Board of Directors from 2007-2013.