Black History Month: Ian Royer
February 6th, 2023
(WHITBY, ON) - In celebration of Black History Month, Rugby Ontario is spotlighting BIPOC members of the Ontario rugby community who are making a difference in the sport. Today’s spotlight is on Ian Royer. Ian is the Co-Founder & Club President, coach and active player for the Rainbow Griffins RFC. Read below to learn more about Ian's rugby journey.
1. How did you first get involved with rugby?
My journey with rugby began with a type 2 diabetes diagnosis in my mid 30s. I needed to get into an active sport, and after trying a few a friend of mine recommended rugby - and the rest is history. Not only did I fall in love with the sport and the community here in Ontario, it’s keeping me healthy.
2. What is your favourite rugby memory?
My favourite memory was co-coaching my team at the 2022 Bingham Cup and winning the Challengers Shield. I think it was my full circle moment from player, to club founder to coach. I’ll never forget the moment that we scored the try that sealed the deal.
3. What do you love most about the sport?
I love the rugby community. I’ve never seen the camaraderie and belonging that comes with being a rugby player and how global that is. It was especially important to me as a new comer to Canada - that feeling of welcome and belonging.
4. What are your goals as you move forward in your rugby career?
Well, I’ve been a prop, a reluctant back, and rugby coach - I have my eyes set on being a referee this year.
5. What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month is an important celebration of black culture, innovation and resilience. It’s hard to believe that we still experience institutional racism and anti-black racism in North America, and the only way we can dismantle that is through education and awareness - Black History Month is one of those foundational educational periods in the year - we’re also lucky in Toronto to have Caribana which I also hold dear to my heart being a Caribbean Expat.
6. What affect has being a person of colour had on your experience in rugby?
Fortunately Rugby, especially in Canada is extremely inclusive. Being an intersectional individual - black, queer, and an immigrant - leaders in rugby have given me the space to be an advocate for minority groups in the sport. I also use my lived experience to build inclusive culture at the Rainbow Griffins so that we give everyone the best experience with sport that we can.
7. Why might Black History Month hold special importance/meaning in the rugby community?
One thing I love about BHM is learning about black rugby players and their impact through sports channels like this one. History is so important to the black experience and it makes me proud to see what we’ve done and reflect on how we can do better in the sport.
8. What can Rugby Ontario do to make our sport more diverse and inclusive?
I consider Rugby Ontario to be a leader in global diversity and inclusion in rugby. In the last 5 years the organization has done everything it can to ensure it’s safe and inclusive - and I think that your strategies, tactics and experiences should be rolled out to the wider community. One suggestion I could make is hosting a leadership conference with regional and international stakeholders so that the learnings can be shared and scaled.
ABOUT RUGBY ONTARIO
Rugby Ontario is the provincial sports governing body responsible for the organization of rugby in Ontario. Our mission is to lead, support and promote Rugby for All from communities to clubs to province. This mission signals a movement toward creating a more cohesive, supportive and progressive sporting environment that is responsive to the needs of all members.
To learn more, visit https://www.rugbyontario.com/
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