A respected educator, Sandy taught and coached boys rugby for nine years at Lower Canada College in Montreal before arriving at CDS in 1997, where he has taught Senior School social sciences ever since. Rugby was still a relatively new sport to CDS when he first arrived. Sandy brought a lot to the table, including medals from Canada Summer games and stints as a coach or guest coach of provincial and national team programs.
He has held the Head Coach position of CDS Senior Boys’ Rugby since 1997 and is now revered as one of the most qualified rugby coaches in the independent school system. Under his guidance and tutelage, the Senior Boys’ Rugby team won championships in 2003 and 2007. After moving to Tier 1 in 2008, the boys played in the next three consecutive semi-finals, but didn’t capture another championship until they moved to 7s in 2013. CDS Senior Boys won CISAA titles again in 2015 and 2017, as well as a CAIS National Title in 2017.
Sandy vividly recalls the pride he felt when his first student made the Queen’s Men’s Rugby team. Kai Sorensen ’03 played throughout high school at CDS and, toward the end of summer following graduation, phoned his coach to see if he could get some extra practice time before departing for tryouts at Queen’s. After several sessions, Sandy felt he was ready. Kai made the team that September and went on to play all four years.
Kai started a streak of CDS graduates heading to play for Sandy's alma mater, including Bryn Davies ’04, Zach Pancer ’05 and Keegan Myers ’10. “It not only became easier for me to believe they were ready to play at the university level, but more importantly, they now believed they could,” says Sandy.
Watching CDS alumni go on to play for Queen’s and other Canadian universities reminded Coach Townsend of how much fun he had had as a student-athlete, prompting him to become involved as an alumnus.
After the 100th anniversary of rugby at Queen’s dinner in 2006, monies had been pledged to Queen’s rugby program, with no real plan for disbursement. In 2007, Sandy met with the Queen’s coaches to help the team move forward with their plans. This resulted in the creation of the Queen’s Rugby Booster Club that same year, of which he became Chair - a position he held for eight years.
Through his involvement in the QRFC Booster Club, Sandy was instrumental in the initiation of the jersey drive, two Hall of Fame dinners, and the annual golf tournament. Under his leadership, the Booster Club provided significant financial support for additional coaching staff to support the Club. Sandy also played a role in the fundraising that was necessary for the establishment of Nixon Field (formerly known as Kingston Field).
When not teaching and coaching at CDS or volunteering with Queen’s, Sandy has always made time to be involved in the game, primarily at the youth level. His coaching experience includes provincial rugby teams in both Quebec and Ontario, including the McGill University rugby team and the Quebec team at the 1992 Canadian Junior championships in Calgary, as well as the 1997 Canada Summer Games, and later in Ontario with the provincial U16, U21, and Ontario Development sides. He has held head coaching positions with Aurora Barbarian teams in his hometown of Aurora for the past 21 years, achieving his goal of winning the TRU Millennium Cup Championship his first year with the Senior Mens’ team and a U18 provincial crown in 2013.
Coach Townsend is also certified by the NCCP as a Level Three coach, and certified by Rugby Canada to deliver their coaching modules - Initiation to Community Sport and Introduction to Competition. For Sandy, the playing field is an extension of his teaching philosophy that aims to help students grow and make their own decisions. On his teams, students learn to work hard, commit to their development as athletes and to enjoy the activity regardless of the outcome. His motto is to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat.
Congratulations Mr. Townsend on your well-deserved induction!