The History of Rugby in Newfoundland


In the early 1970's rugby was revitalized in Newfoundland by a group of English, Welsh, and Irish expatriots and a few locals thrown in for good measure - help.


Rugby hadn't been played in Newfoundland since the early part of the century. This small group of 12 - 15 enthusiasts trained hard and in spite of the lack of competition represented the Province in interprovincial championships with admirable results. These included four Atlantic Provincial Championships and the Eastern Canadian Championships in 1974, and a berth in the National Finals in British Columbia. By 1977 sufficient interest had been generated in the St. John's area to undertake a tour to Ontario. Twenty eight players participated in the tour and upon returning home it was decided to divide up the players and form a four team league. Thus, the first rugby league in St. John's in over fifty years was inaugurated.


The original four clubs were named: Penguins RFC; Cape Spear Castaways RFC; Swilers RFC and The Dogs RFC. The former two have since folded while the Swilers and the Dogs RFC have continued to this day. Some of the original members of the Club included: Garfield Elliott, Larry Ledrew, Dave Crosbie, Mike Bugden, Doug Scott, John Heneghan, Don Gulliver, and Fred Snook. In 1978 the Dogs RFC became the first Club to travel off the Island to compete in the Keiths Invitational Tournament in Nova Scotia. They returned in 1979 and 1980, winning the Championship in 1979. In 1982 the Dogs had another first with a tour to England. Since then there have been tours to the Maritimes, a return tour to England in 1989, a tremendous effort by certain individuals in organizing a tour of Portugal in 1993, and a very solid fourth place finish in the Irish Times tournament in New York in 1994. As the Club grew so did its assets and its liabilities, therefore the Club was incorporated in 1986.


After a number of years of involvement with minor development in Mount Pearl, the Club moved its operation there in 1988. For the 1991 season the Dogs RFC fielded three senior sides, an under 17, and an under 19 side as well as coaching three high school teams. There was (and still is) also an active alumni association. Membership grew to an all time high in 1991 with over 100 members registered. In April, 1993 the Dogs RFC travelled to Toronto and Portugal on what was called the "Follow the Fish" tour. It was a two week tour with 30 players divided into two teams.


After an eight year fund raising drive to purchase a clubhouse, the Dogs RFC acquired their own club in 1993 on New Gower Street in St. John's. Now, the Dogs RFC are in a rebuilding phase. Many players have moved on to find work or to continue education and even play for other clubs. Our clubhouse on New Gower Street has been sold and we are now based out of the old Royal Canadian Legion building on Park Avenue in Mount Pearl.



Contact Information:

President: David Oake




Please contact Greg Noble for more information at 747-3424


Rugby Field located behind MPl School on Ruth Avenue

P.O. Box 1044

Mount Pearl, NL