A great question was asked of Toronto Rugby recently and the answer wasn’t readily available. A simple question of who is Keenan? Our Senior Men’s division was named after him but that’s as much information we had available. Past-President Mark Pinguet has complied a history of the legendary Damien Keenan.
Damien Keenan was born in 1952 in Halifax, Yorkshire in England, and played for the local Halifax Vandals RUFC before coming to Canada in the early 1970s. He played for the Pirates club in Toronto, and became a founder member of the Buccaneers Rugby Club in 1976 when the Pirates merged with the Toronto Police rugby club.
In the mid-1990s Damien was instrumental in the founding of a new Toronto Police club, the Wild Boars RFC. He served as President at both the Buccaneers and Wild Boars clubs, later becoming President of the Toronto Rugby Union until his illness forced him to step down in 1999.
A Yorkshireman through and through, Damien cared passionately about the game and its traditions. On the field he was an uncompromising hooker; off the field, he did not suffer fools gladly, had little time for political correctness, and was not slow to embarrass people who didn’t agree with him.
Damien passed away from esophageal cancer on April 17, 2000. The Toronto rugby scene has been a lot quieter – and a lot less colourful – since he left us.