The first inductees into the newly-created Canadian Rugby Hall of Fame were presented in the annual Awards Dinner on Thursday evening. Five players and two builders were entered in the class of 2017. The Hall of Fame will be housed in the Al Charron National Training Centre in Langford, currently under construction and due to be opened in September 2017.
Charron is one of five inducted in the players category, a four-time World Cup attendee and Canada’s all-time most capped player. Contemporaries Rod Snow and Gareth Rees also played in four World Cups and are among Canada’s most recognized players abroad. Former lock forward Ro Hindson was part of the 1987 World Cup squad and played for represented Canada at both 7s and XVs from 1973 to 1990. Having the honor of being Canada’s first women’s inductee is Gillian Florence. The Quebec native is Canada’s most-capped women’s player of all-time and appeared in five World Cups between 1994 and 2010.
Named in the builders category but also an international player himself and former captain of Canada, Mike Luke helped to establish club rugby in St. John’s and was co-founder and inaugural president of the Newfoundland Rugby Union. He also coached Canada at both age grade and senior level in 7s and XVs. Robert Spray was the first president of the Canadian Rugby Union (now Rugby Canada), holding the position from 1965 until he stepped down in 1972.
Also celebrated at the ceremony were Honorary Life Member awards given to Stephanie White and John Billingsley. White captained Canada’s first women’s side, has served on Rugby Canada’s Board of Directors, and is currently Chair of the Monty Heald Fund which supports the National Senior Women’s side and others. Billingsley is also a former international player and also served as a chief executive for Rugby Canada for 20 years. He is currently the Honorary Secretary of the Hall of Fame Project Team.