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Aurora Barbarians men’s team welcomes back Tom McLeod

April 3, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Robert Belardi

The Aurora Barbarians senior men’s team has welcomed back former senior men’s player, and current head coach of Trent University, Tom McLeod as head coach this season.

McLeod has been playing rugby since the summer of Grade Eight and found an interest in coaching while playing in high school. McLeod says he officially switched his focus to coaching five years ago.

Recently, McLeod led Trent University to a fourth-place finish in the Ontario University League; the best finish in school history.

Now, he looks to command the Barbarians ship in the right direction and bring the Barbarians back where they once were.

From 2006 to 2010, the Barbarians senior men’s team were crowned Provincial League Champions and won three consecutive McCormick Cups in the process.

Three of those players currently play for the Major League Rugby team Toronto Arrows. Hookers Andrew Quattrin, Jack McRogers and Lock, Paul Ciulini are three notable names that have come through the organization in Aurora and were a part of the historic championship run.

The last time the Barbarians appeared in the finals of the McCormick Cup was in 2013. McLeod was on the roster and senior women’s head coach, Khalil Ajram was on the sidelines.

The Barbarians fell to the Markham Irish 8-3 in what Ajram described as a mud bath.

With a prestigious history far away in the rear-view mirror, the Barbarians will look to reclaim glory sooner rather than later.

And it all starts with numbers. After a 1-13 record last year, Ajram says his focus this year is numbers and leaders on the field.

“What you can hope for and what we’ve had in the past is we’ve had those leaders on the field to make their adjustments in [their] game. Last year we had a 1-13 record, but there were six games where we lost by five points,” explained Ajram.

“The other issue that the men’s team had last year, which is a big reason for that record is we had a lack of numbers. We were struggling to get thirty guys available.”

McLeod has set his sights on this goal and hopes to keep the numbers up.

“My biggest goal is getting the numbers up. What that means for me is making sure training is engaging,” McLeod explained.

“I want to get away from telling the guys what they need [and] serve them as a leader so they know what they want practice to look like and we make it somewhere where they want to be.”

The current roster is fielding a lot of up and coming players. Ajram says the team does not have many players between the ages of 25 and 30. That particular age group, is essential for any rugby roster. It’s the core group of players.

For now, the work has gone into rebuilding the senior men’s team and it begins with the talented junior players that will emerge on to the senior scene.

Ajram expects Laurier student and U18 Canada 7s rugby talent Dylan Di Girolamo to be a leader. Di Girolamo is currently training with the Toronto Arrows Academy earning some credible experience along with the Laurier rugby team.

Other players, such as Max Goodwin (Guelph) and Justin and Brandon Filice (Ryerson) are also expected to make significant impacts on the roster.

Although COVID-19 has delayed the start of the season, the Barbarians must wait until April 16to be informed of any updates. The board will determine If it is safe to begin preparations for the upcoming season at that time.

McLeod has a message for his players for the next few weeks.

“I just want them to stay positive and stay healthy. I don’t think there’s anything where we are expecting anybody to go above and beyond to do. As long as you’re keeping yourself in shape and looking forward to the season that’s about all we can ask,” McLeod said.

For now, everyone is at a standstill and awaits further direction this month.



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