July 23, 2014

History

In July, 1950, a notice appeared in the Toronto Star stating that “British Rugby” was about to become active again in the Toronto area and was asking players to join the Wanderers; the only club in Ontario. At that time, rugby in Ontario was relatively unknown and was only being played by a select group of men. Previously, attempts had been made to set-up leagues in the Toronto area, but somehow always ended in failure.

In Brantford, two brothers; George and Vince Jones, who came to Canada in 1949 from Wales, saw the notice and immediately replied. They wrote suggesting there might be enough players in the Brantford area to form a side if the Toronto Wanderers would give them a game. This brought instant response and encouragement from the Wanderers.

Despite being comparative newcomers and with very little influential connections, the Jones brothers pressed on and called a meeting of friends and interested local soccer players. After the first meeting, George and Vince were convinced they had enough players to form a club; The Brantford Harlequin Rugby Football Club.

On September 23rd, 1950, the Jones brothers were notified and the first official league game would take place in Brantford on September 30th against the newly formed Toronto Nomads. Then adversity struck. The newly recruited soccer players had an important game which could not be rescheduled and a couple of other players for unavoidable reasons could not play. The Harlequins were left with four players. A telegram was sent to the Nomads, not calling the game off, but with a message, “Don’t come to Brantford, we will come to Toronto.” So on that historic day, the 30th of September, 1950, the Brantford Harlequins showed up with four players to take on the Toronto Nomads.

George and Vince figured that they could get enough players from the previous games that had been played ahead of them to field a full 15 player squad. They had figured correctly, and had enough volunteers to make nearly two teams. The Harlequins lost their first game 16-8 but this did not foreshadow the entire season.

In the following weeks, the soccer players returned and new players arrived. The Harlequins were fielding 15 players for every game. By season end, the Brantford Harlequins shocked the league by capturing the O.R.U. championship title with a three point lead over the other five clubs. And so, the “Cinderella Club” that had to borrow kits, balls, players, cars and anything else they needed, were champions.