The Class of 2020 were inducted into the BC Rugby Hall of Fame this weekend amid a celebration of some of our sport’s great contributors. A total of four inductions were made: Mike James (Player), Ian “Macca” MacLean (Builder), Pat Palmer (Builder) & Bobby Ross (Player) along with presentations of the Joan Spray award to Jen Ross and the Jack Patterson Memorial Trophy to Jas Purewal. These esteemed individuals were joined by family and friends from the rugby world for a gala dinner at St. George’s Senior School in Vancouver to recognise their collective achievements.
Dallas Gus, a Squamish Nation member, delivered a compelling Indigenous welcome to start the proceedings, reinforcing the messages of recognition, respect and honour. Chris Blackman of St. George’s School guided the attendees through the evening, starting proceedings with a review of the 2019 rugby year as well as introducing the four esteemed inductees to rapturous applause from the room.
Before the awards and inductions began, a special presentation was made to Louise Wheeler in recognition of her years of service with BC Rugby. Past President of BC Rugby Mark Slay and Board Member Tanya Donaldson were on hand to thank Louise on behalf of the BC Rugby community and she received a standing ovation from the room. This was a fitting mark of appreciation for an individual who has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure Rugby of all levels continues to thrive in BC.
Following on from this, Jen Ross was presented with the Joan Spray Award. This award is presented annually to a female member of the local BC Rugby community who through volunteering, has exhibited dedication and a lifelong contribution to the sport. JoAnn’s years of involvement championing rugby in the Fraser Valley and beyond were highlighted by BC Rugby Board Member Connie McGinley who made the presentation. Next, Jas Purewal was awarded the Jack Patterson Memorial Trophy by BC Hall of Fame inductee Doug Sturrock. This award, first created in 1964 in honour of the outstanding lifetime contribution to sports made by Jack Patterson, is intended to pay tribute to an administrative member of the B.C. Rugby fraternity for their contribution to rugby in British Columbia. From his tireless work with Port Alberni Black Sheep RFC to his support of Rugby up and down Vancouver Island over several decades, Jas continues to be a champion of grassroots rugby and a fitting recipient of this award.
Progressing on to the main event, the Class of 2020 inductions commenced. One by one, the careers of each inductee were eloquently shared with the room by their nominators, illustrated by a slideshow of pictures, press clippings and videos before being welcomed to the stage and handed a memorial plaque. Mike James was inducted by Andrew Eckhart of Burnaby Lake Rugby Club and Ian “Macca” MacLean was inducted by friend and fellow Castaway Wanderers RFC alumni Shane Muldrew. Chris Blackman was on hand to present fellow St. George’s staff member Pat Palmer with his plaque and Gareth Rees rounded off the ceremony by presenting a plaque to friend and fellow Canada teammate Bobby Ross.
An indisputable highlight of the evening were the acceptance speeches from the inductees themselves. Each member of the “Class of 202” was full of praise for the colleagues, coaches, teammates and volunteers who had played a part in their eventual successes. Mike James regaled the room with stories from a global career, underpinned by unshakable Canadian values while Ian MacLean paid tribute to all those who helped drive grassroots rugby on Vancouver Island for decades. Pat Palmer talked of the individuals who helped inspire both his playing and subsequent coaching career while Bobby Ross spoke of the bonds forged with teammates and lasting impact the sport has had in his life. These speeches were humorous, poignant, insightful, full of colour and collectively showed the power that rugby has to shape lives and forge life-long bonds.
Inductees and Awards
BC Rugby Hall of Fame – Class of 2020:
Mike James – Player
Ian “Macca” MacLean – Builder
Pat Palmer – Builder
Bobby Ross – Player
Jen Ross – Joan Spray Award
Jas Purewal – Jack Patterson Memorial Trophy