History of the Canadian Rugby Foundation

A group of philanthropic rugby supporters had a passionate dream and saw the need to establish a Foundation for the game of rugby in Canada. Among these supporters, who showed great vision, were Mike Holmes, George Jones, Mark Wyatt and Gren Thomas, whose contributions, in the early days, were vital to the development of the Foundation. The crucial step in the Foundation’s history came through Gren Thomas, a long time supporter of Canadian rugby, who recognized the need for a long term vision and agreed to provide a founding pledge of $1,000,000.00. Also of note were the Foundation’s first contributing members, Bruce McFarlane and Bob Hager.

The first President of the Foundation was Mike Holmes. The Foundation made a significant leap of faith when with limited funds former National Team player Aaron Abrams was hired as executive director and under Aaron the Foundation put in place the procedures and policies that enabled significant growth over the next few years. After Aaron chose to move onto to a different field and under President Pat Aldous, then recently retired, the Foundation continued to prosper. Matthuw Ronald Jones was hired as executive director and helped establish some of the more significant scholarships and funds within the Foundation. In 2010 the decision was made to return to a volunteer run organization with the goal of keeping administration costs to a minimum. At which time Mike Holmes, assumed Chairmanship in Pat Aldous’ place.

In the level of participation, rugby is not even ranked in the top 20 in Canada, and our country is slowly falling behind those other nations that have more players participating and greater funds available. Even the new International Rugby Board grants fail to bring us in line with any of the top rugby-playing nations. When Mr. Grenville Thomas committed to being the lead backer of the Foundation, he provided the initial gift to the Foundation and established a lasting legacy being built upon by past, current and future donors. It will be used to extend programs and specialized services in support of the sport of rugby in Canada through financial support to qualified recipients. It will also be used to extend community awareness of the sport of rugby through financial support. The Board of Rugby Canada endorsed the fledging Foundation in 2001 after presentation of a business plan by board members Roger Smith and Mike Holmes. Dr. Pat Parfrey, the President of Rugby Canada, become one of the early and continous supporters of the Foundation.

The Foundation is an effective mechanism to solicit provincial and local capital donations that will generate income to support the growth of rugby in Canada outside the normal operating budget and requirements of Rugby Canada and other rugby organizations. The Foundation allows visionary members of the rugby community who do not necessarily want to be involved in day-to-day decision-making to participate in the broader vision of a charitable organization set up specifically for rugby in Canada. This campaign is a chance for all rugby supporters to make a difference to help answer the enormous financial need in this sport.

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