Aurora Barbarians History
In 2002 Members of the Barbarians and Aurora Rugby Club agreed to a bold plan to develop a rugby club in York Region that could compete and win at every age group in both men’s and women’s rugby. The membership from both clubs recognized how the game and competition was developing in Ontario and focused their interest on rugby excellence in a sociable community environment. The Aurora Barbarians RFC draws on strong traditions and the growing interest for rugby in York Region.
In 2002 Aurora Barbarians captured the Ontario Men's Under-18 championship and were finalists in the men's Under-16 competition. The club also featured a very competitive women's Under-19 team in addition to four senior men's side and two senior women's teams. In the ten years that have passed since that time the Senior men have gone on to win the Marshall Division, Ontario’s highest level of men’s competition, five times and captured the McCormick Cup on three occasions. The senior women compete in the Ontario Women’s League, the elite Provincial competition for women and have been finalists for the Provincial Cup.
The Club now boasts over 250 junior aged players in programs from under 8 years of age co-ed non-contact rugby to Elite Division Under-18 men’s and women’s provincial leagues.
Over the past ten years the Club has produced many provincial representative players and national team members including Marco Di Girolamo, Oliver Atkinson and David Nielson in the men’s program and Natalie Bendavid in the women’s program
Aurora RFC History
The Aurora Rugby Club was constituted in 1998, developing from the original Aurora Yorks which were formed in 1961 by John .T. P. Brown, a member of the Ontario Rugby Hall of Fame and a past president of the Ontario Rugby Union.
In 1967 the club migrated to the community of Newmarket and renamed itself York County. After some very successful years under the watchful eye of club president Dan Monteith, York County continued on as a competitive junior division club through the late 70's and the 1980's. The 90's saw the club struggle to retain membership and stay competitive however in 1997 they were they joined by Brian Lyall, from the Jed Forest club in the heart of Scottish rugby who took the reigns as coach and began a rebuilding effort focused on local talent. A former player coach for the Kingston Panthers Rugby Club and a player for both the Balmy Beach and Toronto Nomads, Lyall recognized the potential in the Mid-York community.
In 1998, Lyall, together with devoted executive members Barry Williams, Jack Heald, Steve Marsland, Dave Downer, and Rob German engineered the move back to Aurora to start afresh with a new identity and the vision to be a home for championship rugby. The club blossomed in the new environment and quickly progressed through the ranks of Toronto District rugby.
Toronto Barbarians History
In 1949 rugby was resurrected in post-war Ontario by a group of British expatriates who banded together to form the Wanderers RFC. The following year, the group launched an intensive recruiting drive for players and drawing together a total of 80 would-be participants, set up three additional teams based in Toronto including the Barbarians.
The “Barbs” contingent included gentlemen who would become long time stalwarts to the club and members of the Rugby Ontario, the sports Provincial organizing body including: John Alliban; Shaun McQuillan; C.A. (Barge) Bains; and, original Club Captain, Tony Earl. The Barbarian club flourished in these early years capturing double wins in both league and cup competitions in 1953, 1954 and 1956 as well as winners of the annual 7's competition in 1953, 1954 and 1957.
As the club completed its 10th year, the young heroes had matured and the club struggled to put out a full side each week. Dick Gaetor, a former Barbarian player became involved as coach of the University of Toronto and influenced a stream of graduates to join the ranks of the club including life members Bob Turner, Ian Dainty and George Tuck. From this base and with others joining through various contacts, the club was able to re-vitalize itself. In 1968, the Barbarians bought into Fletcher's Fields, the premier rugby facility in Canada, joining the Nomads, Scottish, Saracens, Irish Canadians and the Ontario Rugby Union as owners of the grounds.
As the club moved into the 1970s, it began to focus on the development of young local athletes as a source of new players. The establishment of an Under-19 program became the cornerstone of the clubs re-emergence as a rugby power. Leading the efforts was Nigel Toy, strongly supported by Roger Veale and Bob Lackie, all teachers at local high schools and all deeply committed to the development of young players. While early in the decade, the club had struggled to make its presence felt in the Senior B Division of the ORU, by 1979 eyebrows were starting to be raised.
In 1980 and 1981, the Barbarians took honors in the Ontario Magnificent 7s competition, North America's foremost 7-aside tournament, stamping its emphasis on strong back play and "open" rugby, anchored by junior graduate Ian MacMillan, and joined by an outstanding UK ex-pat Jim Moyes, both of whom played for Canada.
The Barbarians appeared in the McCormick Cup finals in 1984 and repeated in 1985 however as the club moved into the end of the decade, retirement of senior players and competition for a declining player base in the city, the club dropped from the Senior Division in 1990. The Barbs were revitalized once again in 1992 under the leadership of player/coach Drew MacPherson. The club re-claimed a berth in the Senior B Division and continued to make strides throughout the 1990s.
The ‘90s also saw the formation of a women's side within the Barbs and witnessed the commencement of Junior and Minor rugby, with the Barbs pioneering this early stage development in the Toronto region. Organized by long time senior veteran George Tuck and Women's Coordinator, Barb Dinardo, safe rugby for the very young promised to broaden the foundation of the club.