Brian "Benji" Marchak – Player
While his playing career proved to be a relatively short one - ten years - no matter where he played, Manitoba, across Canada, in England and New Zealand , Brian never failed to impress upon the knowledgeable Rugby enthusiast his prowess and aptitude for the game.
A graduate of the St. John’s High School Rugby program, Brian represented Manitoba in the inaugural Under 20 Canadian Junior Championships and for an additional two years thereafter before he went on to represent Manitoba at the Senior Men's level for several years as a loose forward.
Having graduated from St. John’s High School the year the school toured England in 1977, Benji (as he was better known) travelled with his alma mater team and served in the role of manager. While there he managed to play two games in Gosport where he scored a total of six tries and proved to be such a standout on the field that he was asked if he would stay and play for the County U-20 All Star Team in the Four Regions English competition.
Following a two year hiatus from the game in pursuit of his vocation as a fire fighter, Brian rejoined the Saracens RFC in 1980 and returned to the Manitoba Sr. Men’s provincial team fold. Brian played for the Saracens from 1980 to 1984 and was both the recipient of the club’s Most Valuable Player award and selected to the Rugby Manitoba All Star team in each of those five years. In 1980, Brian was a member of the Saracen touring team that travelled to New Zealand where he played all six games on the tour and was awarded man of the match in the second game against Palmerston North. In Wellington, playing against 1st division Poneke (rugby) Football Club, he so impressed the club coaches and their executive they requested he stay and play in Wellington and to try out for their National Provincial Competition team, offering him a guarantee of employment as a fire fighter if he were to do so.
Brian was instrumental in the Manitoba Sr. Men’s upset of Alberta in 1980, and due to his play in this and future Western Canada Senior Men's competitions, Brian was invited to Western Canadian All Star camps in 1981, 1982, and 1983. During the 1981 all star camp in Victoria, it was suggested to Brian by the coaches that if he were to move to BC he would be a strong consideration as the starting open side flanker for the Canadian National Team. As with the offers to play in Gosport, England and Wellington, New Zealand, Brian graciously declined this opportunity, stating that if he were to make the Canadian National Team he would prefer to do so from Manitoba.
Brian continued to play provincially until 1984 when his rising status as a Winnipeg fire fighter necessitated a hiatus from the game. He returned to play for the Saracens in the late eighties and showed an aptitude for coaching too, successfully leading the Saracen’s RFC to their last two Premier Provincial Championship titles in 1990 and 1992.
In 1980 Brian served as Rugby Manitoba’s Coaching Co-ordinator. Following a conference in Ottawa, it was decided by Rugby Canada and Rugby Manitoba to start a coaching certification program for Manitoba. For the next two years Brian worked with the National Coaches Co-ordinator Mike Luke to design the program for Manitoba and throughout the early eighties Brian hosted and ran the Coaches Certificate Program in Manitoba.
Remarkably fit (something he worked extremely hard at), courageous and an extremely gifted athlete, Brian passionately applied his attributes and skills with a zeal, a willingness and a keenness second to none. These along with his astute analysis and understanding of the game, particularly as it related to his position at open side flanker, were to cause few opposing standoffs the opportunity to thrive in the game when he was on the field.