It is with great sadness that Monty Heald, Rugby Canada’s longest serving President (1991 – 1999) and one of only two Honorary Life Members, passed away on Friday July 10 at home with his family around him.
George “Monty” Heald was born in Derby, in the East Midlands region of England. He first became involved in Rugby at Royal Masonic School, Hertfordshire, in 1949 playing for the Colts team. Upon graduation from school, he played for Derby R.F.C. over a fifteen year period as well as for Greengarth R.F.C., and Ashbourne R.F.C.,
Monty immigrated to Burlington, Ontario in 1968 and moved to Puslinch in 1971. He played for the Hamilton Hornets from 1968 to 1972, and captained that Club in 1971. The Burlington Centaurs Rugby Club was founded in 1973 and Monty became a founding member and the Club’s first captain. He also served the Burlington Club as its second President, a position he held for four years, and ultimately became a Life Member of the Club. Monty’s playing career concluded in 1988 as he had already become involved in the administration of the Game at a number of levels. He served the Niagara Rugby Union as the Director of its Senior Team, and the Ontario Rugby Union as a selector for two years (1979/80).
In 1981, Monty became a National Selector and chaired the Canadian Rugby Union Selection Committee for the period 1983 to 1994. In 1984 and 1985 he was appointed as the Manager of the Canadian Sevens team which played in the Hong Kong Sevens. In addition, in 1984, he was appointed as the Manager of the Canadian team and he served in this position for Can-Am matches in Chicago (1984), Tucson (1986) and Seattle (1990). His managerial career was highlighted by the seven match tour to Australia, in June, 1985, in which the Test matches in Sydney and Brisbane represented the first ever meetings between Canada and Australia. Monty was also the manager of the first Canadian team which participated in the CANZ (Canada, Argentina/New Zealand) series (1989) taking the National team to Argentina and New Zealand.
Monty was elected to the Board of Directors of the Canadian Rugby Union in 1986 and served as Director of The National Team for the period 1986 – 1991. He was elected as President in 1991 and he served in this capacity for eight years. In 1995 the Pan America Rugby Association (PARA) was formed and Monty served as the Canadian Rugby Union’s initial representative including two years as PARA’s President. The National Union underwent many significant structural changes during Heald’s term of office resulting from the Boards and staff efforts to maximize the many opportunities which were created including those in the Marketing and Communications area as well as in the tremendous growth in the number of domestic players, and the growth of the Women’s game, both domestically and internationally.
The number of international fixtures involving Canada increased by 160% over the period 1990 to 1999, as Canada prepared for and participated in three Rugby World Cups, in 1991, 1995 and 1999. Monty’s concluding term, as a Director, in 2000 brought his total years of service to the National Union up to twenty. He was inducted into the Ontario Rugby Union Hall of Fame in 2004 and in 2013 Rugby Canada inducted him as its second Honorary Life Member.
Up until last year, Monty was still actively involved in the Rugby community, coaching at the Waterdown High School and serving as Chair of Rugby Canada’s Past Presidents committee, Chair of the Hall of Fame Committee and member of the Annual Awards Committee of Rugby Canada.
The Centaurs had also just created an annual Tournament named after Monty and were lucky enough for him to come down earlier this May and speak before and after the tournament took place.
A celebration of Monty’s life will be held in a couple of months. Letters of condolences can be sent to Una Heald at #19- 25 Hamilton Street South, Waterdown, Ontario, L0R 2H4