Marco Di Girolamo was born in Toronto, Ontario on May 9, 1977. Growing up, Marco enjoyed sports and played hockey and soccer. It was not until his grade nine physical education class that he was introduced to rugby. Marco’s teacher, Peter Renzetti, was a rugby player for the Toronto Barbarians and suggested that he try out for the Ontario Under-15 team. Marco made the team, and it was not long before he committed himself fully to the sport!
The next season Marco earned a spot with his “nearest” club, the Toronto Barbarians. Nearest is a relative term, living in Maple meant that Marco had to make the trip to Toronto to practice and
play games. The club practiced close to Sunnybrook Hospital, which meant if he could not get a ride, he would have to ride his bicycle into the city. Not only did those bike rides make for a serious warm-up before a practice or game, but it also demonstrated Marco’s commitment to the sport.
Marco’s debut with the Barbarians in 1992 occurred at an interesting time for rugby; it was not until 1995 that rugby was considered a professional sport internationally. Even once it received recognition as a professional sport, rugby remained an amateur and under-funded sport in Canada. This did not deter Marco, instead it made him a passionate advocate and he would promote the sport, celebrating the athleticism and diversity of the players at any opportunity.
During his teens, Marco played for and captained many Ontario Rep teams, including the Under-16 Ontario, Under-17 Ontario and U-19 Ontario teams, where he led them to an Eastern Canadian Championship. He also joined three Super League Teams, the Toronto Renegades (1999, 2005-2006), Manitoba Buffalo (2000) and Victoria’s Crimson Tide (2001-2003).
When he was 22, Marco was considered one of Canada’s top players, and he was invited to join Pacific Pride in Victoria – a training facility for the best under-23 players in the country.
During the 2000-2001 World Sevens Series (with 7 players from each team fielding at a time), Marco made his international debut in Durban, South Africa. Over the course of his career, Marco would play in 34 Tournaments on the National Men’s Sevens team – including at the 2001 World Games, 2002 Commonwealth Games and the 2005 Rugby Sevens World Cup. He also competed on the National Fifteens team and has 21 Test Matches, including at the 2003 Rugby World Cup, where he was the only player to Play every minute of every game. Marco was the Captain of the Sevens team from 2002-2005.
In 2002, Marco’s hometown club, the Toronto Barbarians, merged with the Aurora Rugby Club to form the Aurora Barbarians Rugby Football Club. When he was not on the roster to represent Canada at international competitions, Marco would always find the time to play for his home club.
A moment that stands above many for Marco occurred during the 2002-2003 IRB Sevens World Series at the Hong Kong Sevens tournament. Marco was the newly minted team captain, and the Hong Kong tournament was considered by many to be the largest and biggest – Marco remembers it as the showpiece of the series. The Canadian team won the plate against Scotland in front of a crowd of 50,000 people.
In 2004, Marco was named Canada’s Player of the Year. During his tenure as a Barbarian, whether it was under the Toronto masthead or in the newly amalgamated Aurora team, Marco was named the Most Valuable Player 7 times over the course of 3 decades. He led the Aurora Barbarians Club to five straight league championship titles (2006-2010) and three provincial cups (2007, 2009, 2010).
In 2009, Marco moved to Aurora, officially making the hometown of his rugby club the hometown of his family. While he is known across Canada and internationally as a world-class rugby player, Marco is known locally for helping to build one of the strongest rugby programs in Canada, right here in Aurora.
In recognition of his excellence in the sport of rugby, we are proud to welcome Marco Di Girolamo as part of the 2022 class of inductees into the Aurora Sports Hall of Fame.