The Montreal Wanderers Rugby Club was conceived in the fall of 1956. The Barbarians, the legendary touring allstar team from the UK, had just beaten a team of Quebec select players 41-3 at Delormier stadium in front of 5000 fans. At the farewell party for the visiting team, Cliff Morgan, one of the greatest fly-halves of all time, announced to his hosts “What you need in Canada are more clubs! I challenge you to start one!”
The group from the Quebec team that Cliff Morgan addressed included Murdo Murchison, Dick Johnson, Ian Munroe, Peter Gray, Jimmy Geoghan, Tom Clarke, and Hugh Heller. At the time, these “Wanderers-to-be” were all members of the Westmount Rugby Club. They agreed that they could use a little more social action than could be found with Westmount, which they all found “a trifle stuffy,” according to Murdo Murchison.
So the following spring, a meeting was held at the Molson Brewery, with free beer, courtesy of Peter Gray. The Montreal Wanderers RFC was formed under the Presidency of Murdo Murdoch, with Hugh Heller serving as the Secretary. At the time, priority targets for membership were newly-arrived immigrants from rugby-playing nations. Thanks partly to the Molson connection, the club was very successful in its early years. Most of the rugby-playing arrivals in the New World soon joined the Wanderers.
The Wanderers’ first match was against Westmount in September 1957. The first Wanderers tour was held on Thanksgiving in 1957 at Deep River, about 200 km northwest of Ottawa.
The Wanderers currently field two teams in the FRQ men's league, competing against teams from Eastern Ontario and the rest of Quebec. Efforts are under way to establish a Wanderers Junior program and create a viable junior league with other clubs in the Montreal area.
As of summer 2012, the club is preparing to celebrate its 55th anniversary, with games and festivities set to take place on the Labor Day long weekend.
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