• Michael Hayakawa

Familiar face takes over Markham rugby squad


When the Markham Irish Canadian Rugby Football Club went searching for a new head coach to direct the fortunes of their men’s firsts team for the 2016 Ontario Rugby Union Marshall Division season, they didn't have to look far.

The team found a successor from Markham in Fabian Rayne.

Operating a popular Markham-based health and wellness company known as Fab Your Life Inc. since 2001, Rayne was known by a number of executives within the Markham Irish Canadian Rugby Football Club.

Just as important, he enters their program with some impressive credentials.

As a player, Rayne performed with the club as a youth before they merged with the Markham Rugby Football Club and at the national level as a member of Canada’s under-17 and under-19 clubs.

He also played running back with the University of Western Ontario football team and was a sixth-round selection of the B.C. Lions in the 2000 Canadian Football League’s Canadian player draft. His career included stops in Winnipeg and the Toronto Argonauts before being released in 2001, Rayne has been a coach at the junior provincial level and more recently with the Humber College Hawks men’s team.

During his time at Humber College, he directed the Hawks to four consecutive Ontario Colleges Athletic Association titles that began in 2011.

In taking over the helm of the Markham men’s firsts team, Rayne said he was elated when the club approached him.

After discussing it with his wife to make sure it would not interfere with their lifestyle, he gladly accepted their offer.

“I’ve been a long-standing member of the club since I was a teenager when they were known as the Irish and I’m looking forward to the challenge,” he said. “I’ve been with the club since I was 14 and played for years and years and over the last few years I started coaching. For me it’s a natural progression.

In his attempt to resurrect the fortunes of the Markham Irish Canadian Rugby Football Club men’s firsts squad, who last tackled the McCormick Cup title in 2013, Rayne feels a good portion of the ingredients are already in place.

While Rayne intends inject his own style of coaching, which will place an emphasis on accountability on his part, along with that of the players where he expects them to play a more uptempo style of game that will come with a more rigorous off-the-field training program, he feels the addition of a couple of more experienced players would fill the void that’s been missing over the last couple of seasons.

“I think we have a good, young nucleus of talent already,” he said in watching the club play over the last few years. “I think we just need to infuse a few new players, some veterans to pull the young guys ahead to win.”

In taking over as the men’s firsts head coach, Rayne will have a good support staff working with him that includes Matt Raguseo, a former Stouffville District Secondary School standout and Markham men’s firsts player; George Azar, who he played with during his time with the Irish and currently serves as the senior boys’ rugby coach at St. Theresa of Lisieux in Richmond Hill, and Mark Winokur, director of the club’s men’s rugby program. In having those three working along side, Rayne said, will make his job far more easier.

“We have a knowledgeable coaching staff,” he said. “I hope we can bring the McCormick Cup back to Markham this fall.”

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