The Toronto Arrows signed Canadian international Shane O’Leary for the 2023 Major League Rugby season. The 28-year-old flyhalf (29 in December) is 5’10” and 200 lbs.
Shane was born in Cork, Ireland, and grew up in Ballins in Tipperary. He attended Killslor Community College and St Annes Community College before obtaining a Higher Certificate in Exercise & Fitness, Sports & Exercise from the University of Limerick (2011-2013). He also earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Strength & Conditioning from Setanta College (2015 to 2018).
Shane played youth rugby with Scarriff Rugby Club, as well as playing with Munster Under 18s and Young Munster. His senior rugby career began while playing 5 times for Grenoble during the 2013-2014 season.
He also made 24 appearances for Connacht between 2014 and 2017 before playing 9 times for the Ealing Trailfinders in the 2017-2018 season. Between 2018 to 2020 he played in 35 matches for Nottingham and from 2020 to 2022 he played 25 times for Rouen Normandie in the French Rugby Pro 2 league.
Shane is qualified to represent Canada through his mother, who was born in New Brunswick. He played for Canada Under 20s in 2013 at the Junior World Trophy competition and has earned 14 caps for the Senior National Team, where he made his debut against Georgia in Calgary on 10 June 2017. He also played one match against South Africa at the 2019 rugby World Cup.
Toronto Arrows Comments
“I think something special is building in Toronto, and I want to be a part of it,” said O’Leary. “Just seeing how committed the Arrows are to promoting rugby in Canada and growing the game, it’s an opportunity I didn’t want to pass up.”
“Just look at what happened in 2021 during the pandemic season, with the entire organization moving to Atlanta in order to make sure games were played… this is a team that made it work under extremely tough circumstances, and not many teams could’ve made a herculean task like that work. This is an organization that’s dedicated.”
“After speaking with Bill, Mark, and Pete, and seeing the direction this team and this league is going, I felt this was the right move for my career.”
“The lads who are already here in Toronto, and the new boys coming in, fill me with confidence that I can flourish and return to enjoying my rugby again. I’m motivated to win and win big in Toronto, and to help bring an MLR Shield to Canada for the first time.”
“It’s going to be very special for me to return to Canada to play my rugby,” added O’Leary. “My girlfriend and my mother are both from Canada, and I have always felt welcome in Canada. This country has been an integral part of my rugby career – my Canadian roots run deep.”
“I have ambitions to kick on and to wear the Maple Leaf again, and there’s no better place to make this happen than coming home to Canada.”
“Shane is a very skilled Canadian player who can play multiple positions, as he’s demonstrated over his accomplished pro career in France, Ireland, and the UK,” said Mark Winokur, Toronto Arrows Chief Operating Officer, and General Manager. “We are excited to have him sign his first North American contract with us, and we’re looking forward to welcoming him home to Canada.”