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.

The Lanark Highlanders’ Spend a Day at the Fair

(Perth, 09 Sep 2019) – Lanark County’s Rugby Club made a day of it at the County’s Harvest Festival held on Sunday at Beckwith Park. Having revived an old tradition at the fair, the Rugby Club showed up with a brand new, competition-grade tug of war rope.

“When we scrum down, our biggest eight forwards tip the scales at more than a ton,” says founding club member, Toby Shannan, “And that’s a metric tonne,” he adds.

Beckwith Township reeve, Richard Kidd, joins the Highlanders with a few recruits from the crowd. Photo by Robert McDonald

“I grew up just down the road in Gillies Corners, so I know Lanark County produces some big folk. Eventually we’re going to find some locals who will be able to pull us over. And we’ll recruit them on the spot.”

Brandishing a very new trophy, the “Lanark Highlanders Tug of War Challenge Cup,” the ruggers put on a demonstration, and then invited attendees to join them in the tug of war at what they hope will be an annual event.

The Lanark highlanders heavy team, with the unclaimed challenge trophy. Photo by Robert McDonald

Soon after, the Highlanders played host to the Barrhaven Scottish Rugby Club’s Old Boys and played an EORU-sanctioned match on the main field in near perfect conditions. At the end of the match, the Highlanders remained undefeated.

The Highlanders win their lineout. Photo by Robert McDonald

By all accounts it was a great day at the fair.

The Highlanders Issue Tug of War Challenge at the Lanark County Harvest Festival

The Lanark Highlanders Rugby Club will be attending the Fifth Annual Lanark County Harvest Festival at Beckwith Park this Sunday, 08 September, and they’ll be bringing their official 100’ Tug of War rope with them.

“We thought we’d bring an old rural tradition back to the county fair,” says Toby Shannan, co-founder of the club. “There is a beautiful simplicity to Tug of War that captures much of the rugby spirit –teamwork, collective strength, muscular endurance – and we thought Lanark County should have a championship trophy.”

A number of groups throughout the county have been invited to take up the strain on one end of the rope and compete for the newly minted “Lanark Highlanders’ Tug of War Challenge Cup.” Competitors may enter as formed teams of eight or may come as individuals and be placed on a team. The contest will consist of best-of-three heats following Tug of War Federation of Great Britain rules. There is no charge for this event.

“This is going to be a good bit of fun,” says Shannan, who grew up near Gillies Corners. “We want folks to come out and meet us, and have a laugh, and celebrate a Lanark County community tradition. Everyone who shows up is welcome to partake and we hope they’ll stick around and cheer on our Old Boys team right after.”

The Tug of War will take place near the main stage of the County Festival at 11:30. The Highlanders’ Old Boys (35+) are hosting the Barrhaven Scottish Rugby Club and will be playing an official Eastern Ontario Rugby Union match on the main field, kicking off at 1 pm. This is also a free event.

Beckwith Park is located at 1319 9th Line, Beckwith, near Carleton Place. The festival runs from 11am to 4pm followed by a church supper.

Highlanders Place Third Overall in the Perth Demolition Derby

The Lanark Highlanders Rugby Club made a creditable showing in their first foray into the world of combat motorsports, finishing third in the mini class at the Perth Fair’s Demolition Derby last Saturday night.

Long-time Highlander, Alex “Smallsie” Small was the man of the hour. He piloted the club-branded, 2001 Honda Civic through the first, difficult heat, serving up a number of fan-favourite collisions to the capacity crowd. At the end of the round, judges had to call a draw, as only the Highlander vehicle and another remained mobile despite extensive damage to the Honda’s rear end and the loss of two tires.

“I think I was selected as the team’s driver because of my history as a very experienced crasher of cars,” says Small. “I have put many cars that look worse than this one into the scrap yards of Almonte.”

Bob Brown of Noonan’s Auto – who donated the Civic to the rugby club for the event – was aided in the pit by Highlander, Eric Smith, who put his welding skills to good use. “I couldn’t believe that Smallsie got through the first heat without even damaging his radiator,” said Smith. Several experienced Derbymen commented on Small’s intuitively clever driving, protecting his driving wheels while disabling others’. Despite that, with a bent axle and two shredded rear tires, the pit crew had a job of work to get the car drivable for the final heat.

The club’s motto, Cha Gheill, which translates from Scots Gaelic roughly as “he will not yield,” was clearly indicative of the performance of man and machine during the final “Survivor Round.”

“I don’t remember much of the event,” admits Small, “and some of the hits were massive. I just used my full-back instincts and thought sadly of all the children I might never have.”