23 April 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TORONTO, ON – The Toronto Arrows are pleased to announce that Canadian international hooker Ray Barkwill will sign a one-day contract with the club this Sunday, and that he will officially retire from rugby as a member of the team.
The 38-year-old from Niagara Falls, Ont., has been an integral member of the Ontario and Canada rugby communities throughout his storied career. Barkwill’s unwavering determination allowed the late bloomer to play elite rugby late into his 30’s after winning his first international cap at the age of 32. After making his international debut against Samoa in November 2012, the durable Barkwill played in 56 of Canada’s 61 test matches.
The hooker was a mainstay with the Ontario Blues provincial program for the better part of the past decade, winning the MacTier Cup on three occasions in Canada’s top domestic competition. At the club and post-secondary levels in Ontario, Barkwill enjoyed successful spells with his hometown Niagara Wasps, as well as with the Burlington Centaurs, Brock University, and briefly with the Oakville Crusaders.
“Ontario is where I got my start in the sport, and after receiving so much support from the rugby community over the years, it feels natural to come back home to mark the end my playing journey,” said Barkwill. “I’ve had the opportunity to play alongside so many members of the Toronto Arrows throughout my playing days, both with the Ontario Blues and the Canadian national team, that I’ll always feel like their teammate. To punctuate my playing career by coming back home and retiring as an Arrow is truly special.”
With Canada, the 56-capped Barkwill played four games at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, and started three of them. He served as Canada’s captain for two matches, scored five test tries, and earned the 2017 Shield Award as Most Inspirational Player as awarded by members of Canada’s Men’s Team.
Barkwill also hoisted the inaugural Major League Rugby Championship Shield as a member of the title-winning Seattle Seawolves in 2018.
“Few players have ever given more to the sport of rugby in Ontario and Canada than Ray Barkwill,” said Arrows Vice President and General Manager Mark Winokur. “The passion he has for the game made him a favourite among fans, coaches, and teammates alike. We’re grateful to Ray for his accomplishments on and off the pitch, and we’re honoured that he will be ending his rugby career as an Arrow.”
Barkwill announced his retirement from rugby on April 4, 2019, after suffering a brachial plexus injury in last fall’s Rugby World Cup qualifying tournament.
The Arrows will honour Barkwill ahead of Sunday’s home match against the Seattle Seawolves.
The upcoming match, which will likely feature well over 25 Canadian players on both sides of the pitch, has the potential to set the league record for most Canadians to appear in a single MLR game. The record currently stands at 26 – a total that was set by the same two sides in a fixture played earlier this season in Seattle (Feb. 17, 2019).
Match tickets can be purchased at torontoarrows.com/tickets.
About Toronto Arrows Rugby Club:
The Toronto Arrows Rugby Club is Canada’s first professional rugby union team.
Competing in Major League Rugby, the team is equipped to compete against top-tier North American club teams, providing emerging Canadian talent with enhanced and more frequent opportunities to hone their skills at an elite level.
For more information, visit https://torontoarrows.com/
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Header Photo Credit: José Romelo Lagman