Lower Vancouver Island Senior Boys Rugby will honour the late Don Burgess with the establishment of a memorial trophy in his name. The trophy will be presented for the first time in May of this year, and recognize the most outstanding local high school player from the 2018 season.
Burgess, who passed away February 6 at the age of 85, was an absolute legend of the game, as a player, coach, administrator and innovator.
Educated at Vic High and then Western Washington University, Burgess went on to teach and coach at both Mt. Newton JSS and then Parkland SS for 32 years. He made a hugely positive impact on literally generations of students and players.
An outstanding rugby player himself, Burgess toured the UK with Canada in 1962, winning headlines in the British press for his superb performances. Two years later, he was part of history, with his contributions critical in British Columbia's famous 8-3 win over the touring British Lions.
At every level, including with his beloved Oak Bay Wanderers, he was renowned for his side stepping ability, deadly accurate kicking and crunching tackles.
Burgess' Men's coaching resume was equally impressive, as he guided the Wanderers for many years, in addition to working at school level and with highly successful BC and Canada U19 and U21 teams. He also served as an assistant coach with the Pacific Pride U23.
Given his all round rugby knowledge and experience, it was no surprise he was named Canada's first National Coaching Organizer, from where he went on to establish the National Coaching Certification program.
Perhaps Burgess' greatest contribution to rugby was that he was so willing to share his considerable wisdom with others. Countless players and coaches benefited from his tutelage, and there was nothing he enjoyed more than discussing the finer points of the sport. Needless to say, numerous awards came his away, including his induction to multiple Hall of Fames.
As a superb kicker himself, Burgess achieved international acclaim as the inventor of the "Tetley Tee", an innovation now used world wide at all levels.
Married to Barbara for 60 years, Burgess also leaves behind children Lisa, Doug and Mike, in addition to five grandchildren and two great grandchildren. All may be justifiably proud of such a wonderful man and the indelible mark he left on the sport of rugby.