Written by Philip Stone
CLICK HERE for more on John Russell and his legacy within the Ontario and Ottawa rugby community.
The life and times, as well as the distinguished contribution John Russell made to the growth and development of rugby football in Ottawa, Ontario and Canada were celebrated this past weekend.
Having passed away in January 2018, a wake to acknowledge John's role as an architect of rugby union football in Ottawa was held Saturday July 6 at Twin Elm Rugby Park. The celebration was coincidental with the Bytown Blues "club day at the Park". An apt occasion as John was a founding member of both the Bytown Blues and Twin Elm.
The celebration of life was led by the Russell family coming home from across Canada to a familiar location where they all excelled on the rugby pitch! Many friends and competitors from John's playing days crammed the lounge to hear tales and stories about John's on field and off field rugby activities as well as his professional life. Three of his children - all former outstanding players with national caps under their belt - were present. In fact, two of the ladies participated in a masters rugby event on the field after the celebration of life. Co-Ed rugby!
On a warm afternoon, the day appropriately saw Blues players from junior level through to masters rugby playing games. To cap off the extraordinary day, the Bytown Blues 1st XV defeated Montreal Irish Rugby Club 1st XV in a game counting for the premier division championship of interlocking rugby between FRQ and EORU. Much celebrating happened post-game in the newly refurbished Twin Elm facility.
All those attending departed the Twin Elm facility sated with warm thoughts and memories of John Russell. RIP John your legacy is assured.