Gerald McGavin UBC Rugby Centre opens

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Gerald McGavin UBC Rugby Centre


The UBC community welcomed its latest addition when the Gerald McGavin UBC Rugby Centre, located near West 16th Avenue and East Mall on the Point Grey campus, was officially opened on January 8, 2013.

The $2.5 million facility has change rooms, offices, storage space, and bleacher seating for 300 spectators.   It also features a clubhouse lounge for use by alumni, students and sport groups as well as the Department of Athletics and Recreation.

“I’m hoping it becomes a magnet for the alumni,” said UBC men’s rugby head coach Spence McTavish of the new pavilion.  “Hopefully, we can get more people to come out to our games and have the facility become the hub for rugby, not only for the campus but for the province.”

The facility is named in honour of UBC Commerce alumnus (’60) Gerald McGavin, a member of the BC Rugby Hall of Fame who generously donated $1 million towards the project.

“I’m really pleased that very young and elderly rugby players are here,” said McGavin.  “They all seem to think its something that will help the UBC rugby program.  That’s what the whole thing was about; to elevate the program, give it new legs and facilities and everybody seems to think we’re in the right spot to accomplish that so I’m very pleased.  What we’ve got going took a long time but today, it’s very worth it.”

“This thing started two years, seven months and 28 days ago,” said McTavish, recalling the beginnings of the newest building on campus.  “I sat down with an alumnus and we talked about bringing the program to another level, including a new facility.  He started it off but unfortunately couldn’t continue for a while because of work reasons.  Peter Bull came on board and picked up the slack.  Andrew Hamilton is another alumnus.  Those two guys and I formed a committee.  Peter and Andrew did the lion’s share of the work and one thing led to another.”

McGavin and Bull, along with UBC officials and two Thunderbirds players, cut a blue and gold ribbon to signify the opening of the new pavilion.  Members of UBC’s two rugby programs, along with alumni and friends of the teams, then celebrated during the open house which followed the ceremony.

“It’s very exciting and is what UBC rugby has needed for a long, long time,” said Bull.  “Fundraising always takes a lot work, knocking on a lot of doors but it’s very rewarding because you touch base with friends you haven’t seen for a while and you get new relationships so its all very worthwhile.”

UBC’s first game of the 2013 calendar year will be on Saturday, Jan. 19 when the men’s Thunderbirds host the second leg of the Brian Wightman ‘Boot’ series against the University of Victoria.

“None of the kids have seen the inside of the building but the dressing rooms are to die for,” said McTavish.  “Once they get into the building, I think they’ll be pretty excited.”


Gerald McGavin is the Director and President of McGavin Properties Ltd., a Member of the Order of Canada, a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Trust Companies Institute of Canada.  He has received the Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award for Canada, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of BC, and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal.

Initial financial and organizational leadership for the project is being provided by former UBC rugby players Peter Bull, Andrew Hamilton, Greg Obertas, Keith Spencer, Peter R. Mortifee, Donald Carson and family, Rob McCarthy and Andrew Bibby.

Funding for the Gerald McGavin Rugby Pavillion includes:

  •     $1.6 million from private donors as part of UBC’s start an evolution campaign*
  •     $700,000 from UBC Athletics & Recreation
  •     $200,000 from the British Columbia Rugby Union as part of a 10-year partnership with UBC.

As an important community partner, the British Columbia Rugby Union will have access to the new pavilion and UBC fields for its youth, developmental, grassroots and high performance programs.

*This gift forms part of UBC’s start an evolution campaign, the most ambitious fundraising and alumni engagement campaign in Canadian history. For more information, visit