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Bob McArthur

Photo by Adrien Veczan

Been there, done that

By Patrick Soltysiak

Seneca College’s veteran rugby coach, Bob McArthur has been involved with the sport for almost 50 years. He was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1949 and has been playing rugby since he was 10 years old.

McArthur came to Canada in 1967 and a year later started playing at the Toronto Scottish Rugby Club.

He was not a great player, despite his speed, but has excelled as a referee, including at the professional level, starting with a U.S.A. vs. Wales game in 1993.

He says he wasn’t outstanding at rugby. “I ran very quickly and that was a strength that carried me through my playing career, but I had some basic failings as a player. I had horrible hands; I couldn’t catch stuff; so I became a referee.”

He took up coaching in 1979 and it has helped his refereeing. “If you understand what the players are trying to do, this is my rationale, then it’s bound to help me as a referee.”

McArthur got started at the college when a friend of his at Toronto Scottish RFC asked him if he would be interested in helping out at Seneca. He was willing and that’s where he found himself staying.

His time with the school has included two bronzes, two silvers and five consecutive golds, as well as an OCAA Coach of the Year award following the 2005 season. This year his team took silver, losing 30-13 to Humber in the championship game.

McArthur says he doesn’t think college players need any more motivation. “I believe in self motivation and if you want to be on the team, then you want to be there . . . At that age, when they’re so enthusiastic and when they’re coming out to play at the college, they know it’s a competitive environment and that they have to consider the trials in order to make the squad.”

Last year, in a pre-season exhibition game, his group at Seneca beat a team from Cambridge’s Christ College – a moment he considers one of the greatest, along with his first game as a professional referee. He would like to win another gold medal and hopes to coach for as long as he can.

“As long as I continue to enjoy and as long as I can walk around. I’m 58. I’ll be 59 before the next season starts . . . My health is good, my enthusiasm is still good and as long as those two continue, then as long as Seneca wants me around, I’ll be around.”