Meet our 2022 Gilbert Champions
These incredible folks are working to grow the game of rugby in Canada. We have a diverse group of athletes, coaches and community builders who are inspiring the next generation of rugby players. You can read each of their bios to learn about the clubs and programs they are part of. At Gilbert we truly believe that rugby makes your life better - through not only the team work, fitness and confidence grown by playing, but by the community and support that rugby is uniquely known for. We are so incredibly grateful and proud to have the opportunity to support these Champions and shine a light on the projects they are connected to. The roster below travels from East to West, starting in Newfoundland and travelling across this great country all the way to Vancouver Island.
Corner Brook Touch Rugby
Swilers RFC, Rock u19
Halifax Rugby Football Club
Truro Saints RFC
Instagram: @scotiaactionphotos and @official_Truro_Saints
I am a Part time Photographer and I use my photos to showcase our local Rugby Talent and try and make people more aware of the Club. I am also on the Board of Directors for the Truro Saints as the Media and Communications Director. I manage the Social Media Accounts and Posts as well as keeping in Contact with local Newsgroups regarding major events at the club. The Truro Saints field both a Senior Men's and Women's team. We also have several development programs: Mini Rugby Active Start/FUNdamentals (Ages 5-7), Mini Rugby Learn to Train (Ages 8-11), an Introduction to Contact (Ages 12-15) and She Plays Rugby- a program designed by the Saints and Rugby Nova Scotia aimed at keeping self identified girls in sport (Ages 11-14).
HRFC, NS Keltics, Halifax West Rugby
BIO is coming soon...
Caledonia Rugby & Capers Rugby
I am a player, coach, advocate and club development officer for the Cape Breton region. I coach from mini programs, to high school, to senior teams. This past summer I established a brand new mini rugby program in the town of Port Hawkesbury. It's amazing to see kids light up when they have a rugby ball in their hands. I run the Caledonia Rugby & Capers Rugby socials: @caledoniarugby & @capersrfc - Personal handle - @chauntellebrewer Last summer I did radio interviews with CBC, 101.5 the Hawk and had a radio ad on 101.9
PEIRU Abbies and Charlottetown Rural AAA Rugby
I grew up playing and trying out almost every sport in the book, rugby was always a goal of mine. As a person who’s mental health has been challenging, sports have consistently been my escape. From the moment I stepped on the rugby pitch, I fell in love with the sport. I’ve grown as a person and have gained strength in numerous ways. Rugby enhances so much more than physical strength, but also mental strength, determination and teamwork. Only having the opportunity to start in high school, I would love to help bring rugby to the youth in my community to give them the opportunity to join the rugby community at a younger age. I would like to say a huge thank you to all the coaches who have helped me along this journey so far and who are constantly encouraging me to strive for higher success.
Kishora AAA Rugby (combined schools )
Position: fly half/ scrum half
Team: Kishora AAA Rugby
Growing up wearing hockey skates and going to the rink, rugby wasn’t a part of my life until I got into high school. Starting rugby in just grade 11 ( due to the pandemic) I instantly fell in love with the sport. Going to a small school led me to travel to the nearby school to play. Rugby has been the most amazing experience of my life during my high school years. It has brought me so many new friends and opportunities in life. Last summer I represented PEI in the U17 Atlantic championships in Saint John, New Brunswick. I had such an amazing experience with a hardworking, resilient groups of girls which led us to win a bronze medal. I hope to bring some rugby equipment to my small school to get some more students interested in trying out rugby and understanding the game. I want to thank my high school coaches Todd Dyment and Alyson Clow for the time and commitment pushing me to be the rugby player I am today, and our team to great success. My future plans are to further extend my rugby career while I attend university next year.
NB Spruce Rugby, RNS Varsity Rugby, Fredericton Loyalist RFC
Hometown: Fredericton NB
Home Club: Fredericton Loyalist RFC @loyalistrfc (instagram)
Current Club: RNS Varsity Rugby @rns_varsity_boys_rugby (instagram), U19 NB Spruce @rugbynb (instagram)
Rugby has been a part of my life ever since I could walk and I wouldn't have it any other way. Whether it be playing, coaching or spreading the game, my best memories have been on the pitch with a rugby ball in my hands. Rugby is a unique sport, the combination of physicality and respect is unlike any other sport I've played and the community surrounding the sport is so supportive and positive it's hard not to love the sport.
East Coast Games & Saint John Trojans RFC
Moncton Blacktide RFC
I am Mi'kmaq First Nations from Elsipogtog New Brunswick. I am a passionate rugby player on and off the pitch and wish to further evolve myself into more programs and grow the sport to the same passion that I do. Especially because there are no rugby programs remotely close to my community. My Goal is to introduce rugby to the youth to start growing the awareness of the sport and future athletes in the province!
RUGBY CANADA, RUGBY QUEBEC, AND TMRFC
Rugby SagLac / Calgary Saints
JULIEN MAC KAY CANTIN
Rugby Sag-lac, Calgary Saints Rugby, Concordia Alumni , UBCOB Ravens
I’m a simple man, I try to enjoy life as much as possible, and I’ve got to admit I really enjoy myself being near a Rugby pitch! Some amazing people founded a club in Saguenay,Qc (the first in the Region) and I’ve been helping as an Assistant Coach and a personal trainer. As for the clubs, I support/play/played for Concordia University - it made me fall in love with the game. Rugby helped me to travel West where I played for the Rams in the Alberta Cup and then the UBCOB Ravens in the BC Premier (Sad music, Covid intermission) Now, I’m Back!!! I just want to keep traveling and enjoy life while testing what Level Of Rugby I can play at until my body says “no more” …then I’ll probably coach and do it allllll over again.
Oshawa Vikings Rugby Club & Southern Ontario Mercenaries
I am an active member of Oshawa Vikings, involving in various roles (club management, player for Old Boys and Mixed Ability, Coach for Mixed Ability and photographer). I am also a part of Southern Ontario Mercenaries; a old boys touring team consisted of mostly Oshawa and Cobourg players, with a few from other clubs. Outside of the club, I volunteer through my photography to help grow other Rugby clubs, such as Cobourg Saxons and Iroquois Roots Rugby. I have been taking action photos for Toronto Arrows, Durham Lords, Rugby Ontario, Toronto Wolfpack and Judo Ontario.
Guelph Redcoats & Rugby Canada
Brittany is a current member of the national 15's women's program on the journey to the rugby World Cup in New Zealand this fall. Brittany is a Vice President of the Guelph Redcoats rugby club, and assistant coach at the university of Guelph. With the little spare time Brittany tries and referees and coaches high school rugby whenever available, to grow the grassroots of the sport. "The more people playing rugby the better!"
Burlington Centaurs Rugby Club
Burlington Centaurs have been providing rugby to the community for almost 50 years. We pride ourselves on developing the youth and supporting women in sport. Our biggest initiatives this year will be collaborating with elementary school boards to provide and support Rookie Rugby to introduce the sport into the physical education curriculum. We plan to host an elementary school flag rugby tournament in June. We are also working closely with the schools and the community to provide Mixed Ability rugby as an inclusive programming where anyone and everyone is welcome to try rugby on the same field with the same set of rules. The Centaurs are a very social club and our members are considered family. Our motto is “Friends through Rugby, Friends through Life”
Upright Rugby Rogues, Crusaders Rugby
I started playing rugby in grade 9 and had the luck of having Tyler Leggatt(Head of Upright Rugby) as a coach. Since then I have worked with the program and fell in LOVE with the game of sevens, now with the help of the program I have the chance to travel while playing the sport. I love as well as teach and guide the next generation of upcoming rugby players! The program takes pride in the development of its youth, so helping out is the least I can do as that's the exact path that brought me to be the player I am today.
Newmarkat High school RFC, Aurora Barbarians, Ontario Blues, Canadian Misfits 7's elites, Toronto Reds elites, Iroquois Roots Rugby
My name is Ben and I am a grade 12 student from Newmarket Ontario. I have been playing rugby since I was 10 years old for the Aurora Barbs. During this time I have had many different opportunities to play on many different teams at different levels. I have played for the Aurora Barbarians, Ontario Blues Provincial, Canadian Misfits 7's elites, Toronto Reds elites, Iroquois Roots Rugby, and now currently playing for Newmarket High school RFC, of which I have earned the role as captain of my high school team. I'm also very creative and have a great passion for art Portraits, landscapes, and architecture. I feel that having additional interests and being skillful in more than one area makes you a well-rounded person. This, in turn, helps me to be able to relate to more people and not pigeonhole myself. I think this will show young athletes it's ok to have more than one passion.
Toronto Muddy York RFC and Rainbow Griffins RFC
I am proud to have been the head coach of Muddy York for the last 6 years. We are Canada's oldest inclusive rugby club- which means we are a safe space for all people to play and learn rugby, regardless of gender identity or sexuality. We have also recently become accredited as a Mixed Ability club- one of the first clubs to do so- which has opened the sport up to all bodies, regardless of physical limitations or other potential barriers. Muddy York is proud to offer contact, flag and a mixed ability program for our rugby players of all genders/gender identities. Over the last year I have helped to co-found a new club, the Rainbow Griffins. The goal behind the Griffins is to help to make rugby accessible to racialized and marginalized members of the community who may not have felt safe or had access to the sport otherwise. The Rainbow Griffins is proud to offer contact and a flag program with sights set on offering a mixed ability program this year for our rugby players of all genders/gender identities.
Toronto Inner-City Rugby, UPRIGHT ROGUES
Position: Scrum Half
The rugby community welcomes everyone including kids like me who have ADHD! While I play club rugby, I am also a big supporter of rugby at my school Crestwood Prep. Plus I am always thinking of ways to let other ND kids know about how supportive the rugby community is.
Toronto Nomads, Ontario Blue Junior Arrows Academy, and Rugby Ontario
I mostly play inside centre, but have experience at outside centre, fly half, and back row. I play at club level with the Toronto Nomads, provincially with Rugby Ontario, at the elite level with the Ontario Blues Jr Arrows Academy, and I am in the process of trying out for Canada U18 men's XVs. I also play at my high school, and everywhere I go I promote rugby to my family, friends, and peers, trying to grow the sport in any way possible. I also volunteer to help the Nomads with camps when I can. I repost tons of world/pro rugby news, updates, results etc on my instagram story (@graemetremain). The community is the best part of rugby to me. I've played a ton of different sports competitively both at school and outside, and the sense of belonging, ambition, and connection in the rugby community is unmatched anywhere else I've played.
#RugbyUnited & The Rugby Hive
While not a player, I have my 'Century Cap' in written pieces about Canadian & International rugby players, coaches, pundits, and community builders. I have written for Last Word on Sports, Aedelhard, Rugby Americas North, Rugby Canada, and The Rugby Hive. I'm very proud of my body of work. As one of the only female rugby-specific writers in Canada for the last decade-plus, I occupy a unique space where I can lift up the grassroots, those growing the game, and those making a difference. This year I will also represent the Canadian Classics Women as their Communications Coordinator. As well, I co-run the Arrows Up Fan Page on Facebook and support Canada's sole Major League Rugby team with positivity and goodwill. My favourite hashtags are #rugbyunited and #growingthegame. Rugby is more than my passion - it is genuinely my happy place. It is the space in my life that fills my bucket. I'm beyond proud to be a 2022 Gilbert Champion.
HARRY LUTUMBA MPONGO
Toronto Bucaneers RFC & Toronto Inner-City Rugby
Position: Prop and 8man
What I love about rugby is that for 80 min 30 players are at war and play for win, but at the end of the game the players of the 2 teams discuss and laugh as if nothing happen. I am a francophone who lives in Ontario and unfortunately rugby is not very popular among francophones so I always try to talk about it with a members of my family, my friends, classmates and around me and make people discover rugby through me.
Development Officer at Rugby Manitoba and Played for Manitoba Wombats Rugby
Instagram: @rugbymanitoba @manitobawombatsrugby
Position: Coach & Community Builder
I have been the Rugby Development Officer in Manitoba for over a year. Previous to that I was Director of Youth Development with Rugby Manitoba. With the help of many volunteers in our rugby community we have grown youth rugby this past year from 6 youth programs in the province to 14 and we had 500 youth registered last year compared to 40 in 2019. We want to continue growing the game throughout Manitoba with our flag rugby program and introduction to tackle rugby at the U14 level. I'm also the youth coordinator with my former club the Manitoba Wombats where I have my 12 and 8 year old boys playing tackle and flag rugby. I've had great experiences playing rugby in Ireland (Castlebar RFC), New Zealand (Napier Pirates RFC) and across Canada. It is my motivation to give the same opportunities to my boys and all the youth that take part in rugby in Manitoba.
Moose Jaw Mini Rugby
I was introduced to rugby as a high school student with many fond memories, jump forward to 2017 and I found myself with an opportunity to work with Saskatchewan Rugby to start a mini flag rugby program for kids in Moose Jaw. At the time rugby in Moose Jaw had faded away and my hope was to rekindle that passion and gather a community of people to grow the sport to a point that my own kids could have the chance to play when they got to high school. Since 2017 Rugby in Moose Jaw has grown. This spring Moose Jaw Mini Rugby is set to run for our longest season yet; and the Moose Jaw Rugby FC has Women's, Men's and a new Junior's program. We are really excited to have been able to work with Saskatchewan Rugby to set up Try Rugby days in a number of elementary schools this February - May and supply Flag rugby kits to each school visited. From here we hope to keep growing.
For the past 10 years I've been involved in SaskRugby as a player. I came up through the high school and provincial program and now going through the Senior Women's and University programs. Now that I'm a bit older, I'm looking to give back to a community that gave so much to me by growing the sport of rugby in Saskatchewan through Rookie Rugby programming, more female representation, and growing the sport as a whole through marketing and development committees.
I started playing rugby for a local club in Saskatoon Saskatchewan and went on to play Team Sask from there. I was able to train with Macdowell Rugby and got some great coaching experience out of that as well. I am currently playing for UVIC Vikes and have had the opportunity to help out with the Macdowell rugby academy on the island a few times. I love getting involved with any kind of rugby and love sharing and playing the sport.
Fort McMurray Knights & Mini rugby
We have a Mini and Junior program in Fort McMurray for ages 4 to 15 years old (because they have rugby in the high school). We're looking to growing and exposing as many kids and families as we can to this great sport. We're finally going to attend a rugby Jamboree in Edmonton this year, super excited!
Fort McMurray Knights & Mini rugby
My name is Joseph Atalifo, I'm a level 1 certified coach, a current player of the the Fort Mcmurray Knights RFC and one of many coaches to the mini/junior rugby program. My end goal is to continue growing the sport and to hopefully have a thriving mini/junior and high school rugby program in the Fort Mcmurray community competing against more established city teams in the province and country.
Autism Aspergers Friendship Society of Calgary and Lacrossing Barriers Adapted and Inclusive Rugby
I first picked up a rugby ball at nine years old in Victoria, BC (thank you Mr. McAlpine and St Michael's University School). Fast forward 49 years with stops in Markham, Winnipeg, France (USO Nevers and ASPTT Mulhouse) and Calgary (Hornets) I find myself in the most amazing community with AAFS Calgary. The drive and passion of our members has encouraged me to share this beautiful game with anybody who wants to try, and, most of all make it available to those who have been told : "No".
University of Calgary Dinos, Calgary Canadian Irish Club, Dog River Howlers, Rugby Alberta
Hello my name is Sofia! I am a rugby player with both the University of Calgary Dinos and the Calgary Irish Club! At my university I am currently taking a degree in Kinesiology with a major in Pedagogy and Coaching, with hopes of growing the game! I am currently working on my level 2 World Rugby/NCCP coaching certification, and I help coach rugby at my old high school, Notre Dame. Over last summer I worked for Rugby Alberta as a Youth Development Coordinator, and helped put on several Rookie Rugby and Try Rugby Events around Alberta. I am also on the executive board at the Calgary Irish Club, putting on events for the local players and growing the women's side. On April 30th, I will be going to Nicaragua for a second time with the Dog River Howlers, a touring club that emphasizes growing the game in impoverished countries. We host training sessions for local schools, donate rugby, school, and medical supplies, and play against the local teams!
Cowichan Piggies; the Kelowna Crows
I play with multiple teams and travel all around Canada and USA getting as much experience as possible to improve myself. As well as I help coach minis rugby at the Kelowna Crows and Cowichan Piggies. I am involved in MacDowell Rugby Academy where I’m able to apply new skills to my game as well as share my knowledge with my peers. I love the comradery and the bonds I create with the people I play with and train along side with. Rugby for me is about family.
Rocky Mountain Rogues RFC
Instagram: @rockymountainrogues or @petedove
My name is Pete Dove and I live in Cranbrook, BC. I am the current President of the Rocky Mountain Rogues RFC and still currently play for the team. The Rogues compete in the BC Summer League and we were fortunate to win the Saratoga Cup last season. We are working very hard to repeat this year. I am also affiliated with Justice Rugby, a touring side of current and retired emergency services workers (VPD, RCMP, VFD, EMS, CBSA), based in Vancouver, BC. I discovered this beautiful game in my late-twenties and have been completely enamored with rugby since then. I love the inclusiveness that rugby offers. We don't care if about your financial status, relationship status, colour of your skin or cultures that you believe in; as long as you play hard and play the right way, you'll always have friends in rugby. My goal as President of the Rocky Mountain Rogues is to begin a mini-rugby program for children aged 5-12 in Cranbrook/Kimberely, BC. I want to share my passion for the game with school aged children that might have never experienced the game without mini-rugby. Good luck to all teams competing in 2022 and thank you to Gilbert Rugby Canada for giving me the opportunity to share my passion for rugby.
Comox Valley Kickers RFC
I started playing rugby in 2001, at a time when I did not even know what rugby was. I soon realized it was a sport where there was a spot on the team for everyone! I've played for the Prince George Vixens, Williams Lake Hustlers, Kelowna Crows and currently for the Comox Valley Kickers. I also help coach youth rugby with the Campbell River Athletic Association, I am a Level 1 Referee and have helped organize a Touch Rugby League in the Comox Valley. I'm passionate about growing the game at all levels. My most memorable rugby experience to date was going to Bangkok 7's in 2017 with Team Vietnam!
Concordia University Stingers, Cowichan RFC
Growing up on Vancouver Island in the Cowichan Valley, I started playing rugby in grade 8 at Cowichan Secondary School and I instantly fell in love with the game. I went on to play for Cowichan RFC, North Vancouver Island Tsunami, and provincially for BC. I recently made the move to Montreal and am now playing for the Concordia University Stingers while studying Communication Studies. I am super passionate about growing the game especially in the Cowichan Valley, I recently began working as a Marketing and Communications Coordinator for MacDowell Rugby and hope to popularize the sport, attract athletes from around the world, and focus on Rookie Rugby initiatives within the community. I want to help the next generation of athletes get into rugby early so they can take advantage of all the amazing things the sport has to offer. The special thing about rugby is that there is a spot for everyone on and off the field, no matter who you are you can be involved, there are some amazing initiatives taking place around Canada at the moment and I am so excited to get involved and to support everyone on their journeys!
Cowichan Rugby clubhttps://cowichanrugby.ca/
I have been a part of the Cowichan Rugby club since I was born as my dad plays and I have played since Mini rugby now playing U16. Along with Cowichan high school rugby this year! I am also in the Macdowell rugby academy during my school days and it’s an amazing experience for my all round rugby and athletic abilities. I play A level fastpitch with the Victoria Devils U17 team from October to July with training and season. I am involved/playing with Thunder rugby which promotes the sport of rugby to Aboriginal youth/communities and plays in different tournaments and events I am very excited after the past few years to be again playing and helping support/expand the game of rugby.