Author: Finley Mullally

Oakfield Park to Host Family Highland Games in Honour of St Finan, 20 Feb 2022

(08 Feb 2022 – Perth) The Lanark Highlanders will tap into their Scottish heritage as they celebrate an obscure Celtic saint on the Sunday of the Family Day long weekend.

Oakfield Park’s Great Hall

“In the old days, the highland men and women would come together in the winter to compete in feats of strength after which they would share a simple meal and tell stories,” according to “Handsome” Dave MacKenzie, the club’s Gaelic-speaking antiquarian and Old Boys’ fullback. “We are going to recreate some of that community spirit at the club this winter.”

The Highlanders are gathering at Oakfield Rugby Park, their brand new, 20-acre training facility and clubhouse, to partake in this family-themed, all-ages event which will feature outdoor winter games, a beef stew dinner and a story-telling contest.

St Finan of Lindisfarne, 661 CE

“Teams will be mixed by age and gender and will move through a series of outdoor events, collecting points towards the championship,” says Handsome Dave. “We’ll have snowshoe ‘Jinky-jinky’ relay racing; skillet-tossing; and a giant Crokinole game set up with curling stones. There’ll be some rugby skill stations too: ball-throwing and punt-receiving and some other highland favorites.”

After the outdoor games, all will retire to Oakfield Park’s Great Hall for a hearty beef stew followed by a traditional story-telling competition.

The event is open to all members, friends and associates of the Lanark Highlanders.

Doors open at 2:30 for registration. Cost for the event will be $12 for individuals, or $10 each for groups of four or more.

Due to COVID restrictions, space is limited so to reserve your place in the mead hall, EMT payment to and name your team mates in the Comments section.

For more information, contact Finley Mullally at

Indoor Winter Rugby Training is Back in Lanark!

(07 Feb 2022 – Perth) The Lanark Highlanders Rugby Football Club is back on the pitch and holding indoor training at Beckwith Recreation Complex on Sunday mornings until 24 April. U18, all genders, have the field from 10am, followed by the adults, all genders, from 11am until noon.

Photo by LeeAnn Napiorkowski

“This is a great opportunity to leverage the fantastic growth that the club has seen in 2021,” says club president Dan Drummond. “Despite the pandemic, between the youth and adult programmes, the number of registered players grew by four times over previous years.”

The club will be enforcing Lanark/Leeds Public Health Guidelines and participants must show proof of vaccination and register for contact tracing upon arrival.

“Despite the continuing COVID restrictions, the growth of the club has been a real bright spot and gives me hope for the 2022 season,” says Drummond.

Players will work on fitness and agility as well as developing rugby-specific skills. “But we won’t be doing full-contact drills on the AstroTurf”, says Coach LeeAnn Napiokowski. “But it’s surprising how much you get out of flag training,” adds Napiorkowski, referring to “Flag Rugby”. “It’s a fun, light-contact version of the game that still emphasises good technique and tactics.”

For anyone interested in returning to the sport or in checking out rugby for the first time, the Highlanders would love to meet you. Come for a run-about and meet the community. Arrive 5 mins before the session, bring proof of vaccination, and wear soccer cleats or cross trainers. Costs for all 12 sessions is $50 for U18 and $100 for adults. Single-session drop-ins are welcome at $10 a session.

For more information, email any member of the club executive.

Mini Highlanders Rugby Debuts in 2021

A Young Highlander contemplates the game. (Photo Dan Drummond)

2021 marked the beginning of the Lanark Highlanders mini rugby program. From July 6 to August 28, 48 athletes aged 5-12 learned how to play rugby at Oakfield Rugby Park. Our young Highlanders made new friends and represented the club at 2 EORU tournaments. We are so proud of how much our players learned this summer. At the end of our summer season, every mini-Highlander was gifted a ball, bag and water bottle from Regional Plumbing and Water Treatment. We hope our new rugby players will share their overall of rugby with their classmates and friends in the community.

And she’s away! (photo LeeAnn Napiorkowski)

Special thanks to all of our coaches who made this summer so much fun! Joe Adams, Sierra Devries, Andrew Drummond, Dave Harrison, Emilee Harrison, Kendra Harrison, Sean McDaniel, Duncan McNaughton, LeeAnn Napiorkowski, Tekapua Rewi, Eric Smith, Jamie Smith.

Moving in for the flag (Photo Dan Drummond)

Lanark Highlanders Show Their Drive: $3300 raised for Local Food Banks in #TackleHunger Campaign

Big Dave Harrison smiling for the camera

(Perth, 17 April, 2020) – Lanark County’s Rugby Club responded to the news that local food banks were in need of replenishment by collecting 345 lbs of food and raising $3300 in cash donations. Their week-long #TackleHunger campaign drew support from the rugby community locally, but was also supported by other clubs and players in the region.

 “I’m so proud of this club and its community,” says coach and drive organiser, LeeAnn Napiorkowski. “I am so impressed with the positive spirit and generosity I’ve experienced with this rugby family.”

2 meters? No problem for the backs.

Club president, Dan Drummond, says the idea was floated during an emergency meeting of the executive, held virtually, to discuss the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on their current membership drive.

“I didn’t have much good news to share with the team: essentially, the cancellation of the rugby season in the middle of our expansion was a real morale killer. But the response was, ‘Let’s do something else.’”

The Highlanders are in the midst of a recruiting campaign that will add boys’ and girls’ programmes and several men’s and women’s teams to the club’s roster.

“When we considered the size of the club’s core membership, we decided to set an ambitious goal to raise $2000 over the course of a week,” recalls Dave Harrison, co-organiser of the campaign. “Six days in, we were only $100 shy, so we made a final appeal for the last hundred dollars the night before the campaign ended, and club members donated an additional $1400, putting us well over the top. I love this club.”

Not the first time that masked Highlanders have taken things without paying for them…

The Highlanders also collected 345 lbs of non-perishable food items, respecting social-distancing rules. Money and food will be distributed to The Hunger Stop (Carleton Place), Smiths Falls Community Food Bank, and The Table Community Food Centre (Perth).

Be Bold: Play Rugby! Lanark Highlanders Launch Recruiting Campaign

(Perth, ON) – The Lanark Highlanders Rugby Football Club has launched a media campaign to grow their membership in 2020, advertising free training for men, women, boys and girls. The club expansion coincides with the construction of a 20-acre training facility in Drummond Township, just East of Perth, due to open in July.

Monday Night Training/photo by LeeAnn Napiorkowski

“Lanark County is poised to become a regional centre of Rugby excellence,” predicts Dan Drummond, club president. “We have attracted a first class coaching staff and soon, will have a first-class rugby park. All we need now are more Highlanders.” The Highlanders added a U17 girls program in 2019 and will launch a senior women’s team and a boys team this summer.

Running Drills/photo by LeeAnn Napiorkowski

Free training is being offered every Monday night under the dome at Beckwith Park, just south of Carleton Place, beginning at 9pm weekly. In addition, the club will be offering a “Try Rugby” session specifically for boys and girls, 14-18 years old, at Carleton Place High School, Friday 21 Feb, from 5:30 to 7pm.

“Come on out and give it a try,” says club president, Dan Drummond. “All you need are a pair of soccer cleats. We are a very inclusive club, and welcoming of anyone. Rugby is one of those sports where we don’t expect new folks to come to us knowing the game. No experience needed. We’ll teach you everything you need to know.”

Listening to Coach/photo by LeeAnn Napiorkowsi

TeKapua Rewi, head coach is quick to add: “I mean, we’d love to have former players, track stars and off-season hockey players, power-lifters and football players, too.”

Citizens of Lanark county should start seeing posters, hearing ads on Lake88, and reading posts on social media. The campaign features the slogan, “Be bold: Play Rugby!” and will run through the spring. Besides welcoming new players, the Highlanders are also hoping to attract refs, coaches, social members and club boosters to the sport.

Two Highlanders: Daughter and Father/Photo courtesy Dave Harrison

If you are interested in becoming a Highlander, come to a practice, visit and subscribe to our mailing list, or email

Rugby Ontario Introduces their Sport to 300 Lanark Co Students

(Perth – 18 Jan 2020) On 14 and 15 January, 2020, Ryan Jones and Liam Spafford from Rugby Ontario, partnered with the coaching staff of the Lanark Highlanders Rugby Club, were invited to lead Physical Education classes in county schools.

Rugby Ontario developers, Highlanders coaches, and students and staff at St John’s HS

The team presented “Honda Rookie Rugby Training”, a non-contact, skill-development program designed to introduce rugby-based athletics to new players. Rugby Ontario dispatched Jones and Spafford, two development officers from its headquarters in Whitby On, to lead the sessions. More than 300 students from grades seven to 12 were involved in the two-day extravaganza at Perth and District CI, St John’s, and Carleton Place High Schools. Rugby Ontario seeded each school with five free Rugby Balls for their athletic programs.

“It was great to see so many smiling faces at the end of the sessions,” said Highlander coach, Eru Pou. “I was nothing but proud of our club and our sport, and the direction we’re heading this year.”

The Highlander club is planning a wide membership expansion to coincide with the opening of their 20-acre training facility and clubhouse near Gillies Corners later this year.

Coach Rewi teacheth the lesson

Last year, the club added a third registered team, Women U17, to the Eastern Ontario Rugby Union, joining the Senior Men and Old Boys. This year, the club intends to add a senior women’s team, a boys team and a mixed abilities team for players with special needs.

“Rugby is for everyone,” says club president Dan Drummond. “We’ll register teams to play in the EORU as our numbers allow, but we will provide a training and playing experience for anyone who wants to join us. In some cases we’ve partnered with other clubs to make a full team, and in others we’ve selected tournaments and participated in “friendlies” with visiting teams.” There are also several variants of the game to allow for smaller numbers of teammates.

A Spartan takes flight…

“We’re going to see who shows up for indoor, winter training,” according to Drummond, “and all are welcome.”

The club will be offering weekly, introductory training sessions at Beckwith Park near Carleton place Monday evenings at 9pm starting on 03 Feb and running through to the spring for all ages, genders and abilities. In addition, the club will be hosting a “Try Rugby” session targeting youth, 14-18 years old at Carleton Place High school on Friday 21 Feb from 5:30-7pm. All these events are free of charge.

For more information, or to join the highlanders, visit the club’s website at and join their mailing list.

Highlanders to bring Ryan Jones to Lanark Co High Schools, Jan 2020

Ryan Jones. Photo courtesy of Rugby Ontario

The Lanark Highlanders Rugby Club is proud to introduce Ryan Jones, the development manager at Rugby Ontario, to a number of our schools in Lanark County.

The Highlanders have invited Mr Jones to run “Honda Rookie Rugby Training” sessions at area high schools, supported by their own coaches and players, in efforts to grow the sport in Lanark.

“This is the time to play rugby in Lanark County,” says former Team Canada player and Carleton University coach, LeeAnn Napiorkowski. “There are big things happening with the Highlanders in 2020 and the development of our youth programme is priority one for the club.” 

Ryan Jones’ team will be leading rugby drills and skills as part of Physical Education classes next week. Sessions will run in Perth on Tuesday, 14 January at both St John’s High School and Perth and District Collegiate Institute. The next day, Wednesday, 15 January, Honda Rookie Rugby Training will be offered at Carleton Place High School. For more information about Honda Rookie Rugby Training, visit 

The Highlanders, supported by players and coaches from the Carleton University Ravens Rugby Team, will offer a free “Try Rugby” training event for boys and girls, aged 14 to 18, on Friday, 21 February from 5:30 to 7pm at Carleton Place High School.

The Highlanders’ current membership drive coincides with the construction of a 20-acre rugby park and clubhouse in Gillies Corners, due to open in summer of 2020.

Highlanders First Side defeats Carleton University Seconds in a Friendly (but Physical) Rugby Match

(Perth, 19 September, 2019) – It was a contest that pitted youth against experience as the Lanark Highlanders Rugby Club’s men’s first team hosted the Carleton University men’s second team for a friendly match at Beckwith Park last night.

The final result was a 45-12 victory for Lanark County.

Carleton Men 2 pose with Lanark Men 1 after the game. Photo by LeeAnn Napiorkowski.

“It was a physical game, for sure,” remarked Dave Harrison, long-standing prop and one of the original members of the Highlanders. “The young fellas gave us a good run for our money, but you should always bet on cunning and experience.”

Patient play among the forwards allowed for possession to run in favour of the Highlanders who waited for opportune moments to run the ball through the back line. Deft offloading permitted Lanark to exploit gaps in Carleton’s defence. Still, the younger team did not fold under the pressure and paid out massive hits and finished tackles. The Highlanders selected Carleton’s Nick Naida as “Man of the Match” while Curtis Bernicky was the Highlander honoured.

“I’d love to get some of those Carleton boys into Highlander kit next spring,” said club president Dan Drummond. “Our seasons are complementary, so most university athletes will play for club teams through the spring and summer before heading back to their University sides in the Fall.”

The Lanark Highlanders are currently working on a club expansion and will add a women’s team and a U17 boys’ team to the club roster for play in 2020. If you would like to join the club as an athlete, fan or sponsor, leave your email address below.