Inducted November 3, 2001
Dr. Noel Browne’s sports escapades have taken place over four decades in Newfoundland and Labrador. He could even be called the godfather of rugby in the province. Noel has been involved in the provincial rugby scene as both an athlete and a builder and we are recognizing him for his contributions to build his sport from its very early days.
While growing up in Ireland, Dr. Browne’s involvement in the sport began as a student at Blackrock College, and then he proceeded on to Galway University until 1966. During these very competitive years, Dr. Browne played for Connaught and the combined Irish Universities Team and also had the privilege of having a trial at the age of 19 for the Irish National Team in 1962 and in representing Connaught through his university days.
In 1966, Dr. Browne moved to Newfoundland, and by 1968 he had generated enough interest in the province to have teams compete in national tournaments. The provincial sides garnered so much attention that, in 1973 three players from Newfoundland (including Dr. Browne) were selected to represent Canada. Dr. Browne also became a permanent fixture on the Senior Provincial rugby teams from 1974-1986. While playing for the national team, Dr. Browne had two opportunities to experience international play, once in 1973 in a match against Wales and again in 1975 against Tonga.
On the builder side of the rugby scene, Dr. Browne was just as involved. On October 20, 1970, he became one of the founding members of the Newfoundland Rugby Union and served on its Board of Directors. In 1975, Noel once again became a founding member, this time it was with the Swilers Rugby Club. Dr. Browne served as this club’s president for the next 20 years. He also spear headed the creation of the first class playing fields and clubhouse that is located on Crosbie Road in St. John’s. Dr. Browne’s other notable accomplishments in the provincial rugby scene include organizing representation to national competitions, the development of the four-club rugby system in the province, and the creation of the junior provincial rugby system. From 1986-1989, Dr. Browne coached the junior provincial representatives, winning a silver medal in 1987.