Written By: Brock Smith 

Passion. Solidarity. Respect.

These are a few of rugby’s core values, celebrated globally as the sport’s character-building characteristics.

Every rugby club produces countless examples of players showcasing these values; from quick acts like shaking hands with every opponent post-match before leaving the pitch, to volunteering hours on end to coach junior club sides, club members demonstrate rugby’s values each and every day.

Oftentimes, these values will transcend the pitch and clubhouse, and spill out into the greater community.

“Rugby clubs are so much more than just sports teams,” posits Len Day, president of Barrie Rugby Football Club. “Modern rugby clubs are community groups that can make a real difference in our neighbourhoods. Our communities give so much to us, and in the true spirit of rugby, it’s important that we show respect to our friends and neighbours, and that we give back during times of need.”

Two years ago, as part of a club campaign to become more community-minded, Barrie forged a partnership with Canadian Blood Services. The club pledged to participate in a mass donation every long weekend when regular donations are low.

“It’s a perfect fit. We started out by saying that since we already give so much blood on the field, why wouldn’t we give blood to help our community?” chuckles Day. “Some of our players are more afraid of the needle than taking a big tackle, but with a little support, they get past it.”

At least four times a year - typically around Easter, Canada Day, Labour Day, and Thanksgiving (and additional weekends when the national blood supply needs a boost), Barrie organizes a blood drive at their local Canadian Blood Services clinic, filling two hours’ worth of available donation slots.

“A couple dozen players will come out, and they’ll bring spouses, partners, family members, and friends,” says Day. “Our blood drives have become like a family event, where everyone can gather to support those who are donating. It’s a positive, encouraging atmosphere.”

The club routinely delivers on their pledge, and then some. This past spring, Canadian Blood Services issued a critical need for donations, and Barrie answered the call, producing more than 25 units of blood on short notice.

“We know that every donation counts, and can directly impact patients across our community and across Canada,” says Day, estimating that club members have donated more than 150 units of blood over the past two years.

To put their donations into perspective: Victims of a bad car crash can need up to 50 units, while leukemia patients can require up to 80 units every week, the organization estimates.

“All of this started by us wanting to become more community-minded, so that those who aren’t aware of Barrie RFC know that we’re not just a bunch of people who just play rugby,” adds Day. “We care about the community that we live in, and we genuinely want to give something back for being able to live and play our sport in Barrie.”

“We want to be leaders in our community, and we want to set a positive example, both on and off the pitch.”

[To book an appointment with Canadian Blood Services, locate a clinic, check your eligibility and more, visit blood.ca.]

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