John Billingsley - Inducted 2016
John Billingsley was born in Vancouver, BC where he began his rugby at Magee High School. He played rugby on the Vancouver Meralomas in 1972 & 1973 where the team won back to back BC Club Championships and then went to University of British Columbia and played from 1974-1977 while earning his Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and a minor in Commerce and Business. John also attended California State University at Long Beach and played for the University team while earning his Masters degree in Sports Administration.
In 1981, John relocated to Ontario to take the position of Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer for the Canadian Rugby Union where he was a senior staff member for 20 years. At its peak, he managed a staff of 8 employees with an operating budget of $5 million, and stayed with the organization through 2001. Following his success at Rugby Canada, he went to the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) where he was Deputy Chief Operating Officer/Chief Operating Officer for 6 years.
After his departure from the CSA, John continued to work as a Sport Management Consultant for the CSA and Rugby Canada. His role as a consultant with Rugby Canada came as the organization began hosting more home international test matches as awareness and support for the sport grew and rugby went from being held on local club/university fields to large stadiums where over 20,000 fans could assemble in one location to cheer on Canada men’s and women’s teams.
Beginning during his University years, John played rugby for Canada internationally for ten years (1974-1984), earning 9 caps. His first was earned at the age of 20 against Tonga and his last cap at age 30 against the USA. He also played on Canada’s Sevens team in 1981 and 1983 at the Hong Kong Sevens.
He also played competitive rugby at the Provincial level for 8 years with the BC Rep Team and 2 years with the Ontario Rep Team. During this time he also played competitive rugby at the Club level including the Vancouver Meralomas where he won back to back BC Championships in 1972/73; the UBC Thunderbirds, Long Beach State University and the Ottawa Irish who were Ontario Club Champions during his time playing there in 1982/83/84.
John not only played rugby but he went on to fill the role as a coach as well. In 1982-1987 he was a player and coach and from 1988-1995 solely a coach of the Ottawa Irish Sevens team that won several Ontario Sevens Championships. He also refereed rugby for approximately 10 years where he reached the provincial level before retiring in 1999.
John has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the history of the sport here in Canada and is currently serving on Rugby Canada’s Ways and Means Committee that is charged to help archive our rich rugby history and played a role in inducting our first class of Hall of Fame members in 2017.