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Three Thunderbird greats to be inducted into Rugby Canada Hall of Fame

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Maria Gallo is the UBC Thunderbird women's rugby head coach. (Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds photo)

VANCOUVER (from UBC Thunderbirds) – UBC Thunderbirds women’s rugby head coach Dr. Maria Gallo joins legendary former UBC men’s rugby coach Spence McTavish and the late great Douglas “Buzz” Moore in Rugby Canada’s 2018 Hall of Fame class.

Gallo has served as head coach with the Thunderbirds since 2013 and is entering the Hall for her accomplishments as a player where she had enormous success at the high school, University, and international levels.

McTavish enters the Hall of Fame for his accomplishments as both a player and builder. McTavish had a tremendous UBC playing career before becoming a founding member of the UBC Old Boys club and embarked on a storied playing and coaching career.

Buzz Moore was a mainstay locally, provincially, and nationally as a tireless representative for the sport and will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in the builder category.

Gallo, McTavish, and Moore are joined by Dr. Ian Birtwell (Builder), Monty Health (Builder), Ruth Hellerud-Brown (Builder), and Stephanie White (Player) as the 2018 inductees. They will join last year’s inaugural class of Inductees at the Rugby Canada Hall of Fame which will be located in the new Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre when it’s completed in 2018 in Langford, B.C.

The Hall of Fame committee had many great nominees to consider before approving a group that includes a former men’s head coach, a top builder of the Canadian team, along with key members of the women’s community who have significantly contributed.

The inductees are selected by a committee made up of influential members of the rugby community, including Doug Sturrock as Chair, John Billingsley at Secretary, Alan Sharp, Rick Bourne, Liz Ferguson, Keith Wilkinson and Rick Graham.

The Inductees will be celebrated at the Annual Awards Dinner & Hall of Fame Inductions, which will take place at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre on Thursday, March 8th before the Canada Sevens tournament.

Dr. Maria Gallo (Player)

Mario Gallo began playing rugby at St. James High School in Guelph launching a career that would last fifteen years and take her around the world.

She starred as a member of the Guelph Gryphons from 1996-2000 leading her team to four provincial titles and the inaugural CIAU championship in 1998. She and the Gryphons would win the CIAU silver medal the following season. Both times she was named a tournament all-star and the event’s most valuable player. Gallo was a two-time OUA all-star (1997 & 1998), an All-Canadian in 1998, and Guelph’s Female Athlete of the Year that same year.

After graduating from the U of G, she moved to the University of Alberta where she won two more national titles in 2001 and 2003 and was named the Panda’s Female Athlete of the Year and the CIAU Player of the Year in 2002. She did all this while earning her Ph.D. in Muscle Exercise Biochemistry.

Her next stop on the rugby pitch was playing for Canada. She was a co-captain for several years playing on the national 15’s rugby team from 1999 to 2010. She was a mainstay of the national team playing a total of 55 international caps and in two World Cups – 2002 and 2006. In 2006 she had the second most tries of any player in the event with six. Gallo played with Canada’s national 7’s rugby team from 2008-2010 where again her leadership and dogged determination paid off as she was named team captain leading our country into the 2009 World Cup.

In 2002 and 2003 she filled her winter months as a member of Canada’s Bobsleigh team, finding the power she had developed in rugby was a natural fit when it came to the explosive starts necessary in bobsledding.

Gallo is now the head coach of the UBC Thunderbirds Women’s 7’s and 15’s rugby teams taking the 7’s squad to their first national title in 2016. While at UBC she completed her post-doc in blood doping and in 2010 was elected to the Guelph Gryphon Hall of Fame. She was also inducted into the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame in 2016.

Spence G. McTavish (Player/Builder)

McTavish’s high level of performances and record during his rugby career as a club, sub-union, provincial, and national team player is quite remarkable. After a stellar career at UBC, he was a founding member of the UBC Old Boys for whom he played from 1974-1989 and coached them to two provincial titles in 1990 and 1991. He returned to UBC in 1992 and coached there until 2014.

Having not yet been selected for BC, McTavish was chosen to represent Canada against Fiji in 1970 and by 1987 had become both BC’s and Canada’s longest-serving player of international standing. He scored a try in his first ever game and seventeen years later was in the lineup for two of Canada’s three appearances in the very first Rugby World Cup. McTavish’s 22 international appearances for Canada from 1970-1987 were remarkable considering that only one other Canadian player has had the equivalent longevity on the national team.

His ability as a leader was verified by his captaincy for two of four overseas tours made by Canada. On the 1979 Wales, England, France tour, he played in all six games and was captain of two. McTavish’s talent was recognized overseas by his selection to the Irish Wolfhounds in 1973 and in 1976 to the Overseas XV against Cardiff.

McTavish’s record in the fifteen-a-side game almost parallels his exploits in the seven-a-side version. During his three years in the Hong Kong Sevens, McTavish was also the captain. From 1994-1998 he returned to the 7’s game, coaching Canada’s National 7’s team, including the 1997 Rugby World Cup and the 1998 Commonwealth Games. Believing that one should lead by example, McTavish provided ample evidence during his outstanding career for others to emulate.

Douglas “Buzz” Moore (Builder)

Douglas Moore, known to most as “Buzz,” moved to Vancouver from Regina in 1925 at age 4. His time at Vancouver’s Lord Byng High School allowed Buzz to excel at football, skiing, and rugby. Showing much promise in rugby, he joined the Meraloma Rugby Club at age 16 and began playing for the senior side. During a prolific senior rugby career that lasted twenty-eight years, he was awarded the Howie McPhee Memorial Trophy as Vancouver’s outstanding rugby player.

Buzz captained both the BC and Canada sides in 1948 until 1962 against Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, USA, Japan and Fiji. At 42, he led Canada on a three-month long tour of Great Britain during which his side took on the famed Barbarian Club. A 3-3 tie resulted after which Buzz was presented with one of rugby’s highest awards, “Honorary Barbarian.”

Buzz retired from play in 1965 following a Canadian Rugby Championship with BC. Throughout his career, he held various administrative roles including Coach and President of the Meraloma RFC, President of the BC Rugby Union, and President of the Vancouver Rugby Union from 1954-1966. In 1967 he was inducted as a builder into the BC Sports Hall of Fame and in 1975 was awarded the Jack Patterson Memorial Trophy.

Buzz joined the UBC Athletics department in 1964 and was consistently involved there until his death in 2011. Buzz was inducted into the UBC Sports Hall of Fame in 1995 and received an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University in 2002.

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