Karl Svoboda

Karl Svoboda – Inducted 2000

Karl Svoboda “caps” an unparalleled career in Canadian rugby with his induction into the Belleville Sports Hall of Fame. When Svoboda retired from active play he was the most capped hooker in the history of the Canadian National Rugby Team, with 24. (A “cap” is symbolically awarded to a rugby player who represents his country in international play). Born in Belleville March 23, 1962, he began his rugby career in 1978 with the Belleville Bulldogs RFC and at Centennial Secondary School. As a 17-year-old he was named to Mid-Ontario senior and junior representative sides and in 1980 he was a member of the Ontario Junior Squad that was the first Canadian team to win the prestigious Preston Grasshoppers Tournament in England. Svoboda was a member of the Ontario Senior Rugby Team between 1983 and 1995, several times captaining the team. He captained the University of Toronto Varsity Blues (1981-82) and was a member of the Canadian National Team (1984-1995). He earned the right to play in the first three World Cup of Rugby global championships in Australia and New Zealand (1987), France and Britain (1991) and South Africa (1995). Svoboda captained Canada to its first, and to date only, win over England in 1993. A rarity for a Canadian, he was offered professional playing contracts by English Rugby Union teams in Bedford and Northampton following the 1991 World Cup. In 1995 Svoboda accepted an international rugby scholarship to historic Oxford University. While on tour of Eastern Europe with an international touring side called the Penguins, Svoboda was inducted into the Czechoslovakian Rugby Union Hall of Fame in Prague. (His father, John, was born and raised in the Czech Republic before coming to Canada). In 1995 Svoboda retired from both the Canadian and Ontario sides but remains active in the sport as a coach. Now living in Whitby, he’s married to Kendra. A teacher, he earned a Master’s degree in business from Oxford. Perhaps Svoboda’s career was best encapsulated in a Globe and Mail article published in December, 1994 following a game with France. “Quite simply, Canada put in one of the greatest displays of defence in its 60-year international history. Canada’s steely determination was personified by 32-year-old Ontario hooker Karl Svoboda. With four minutes remaining, Svoboda, groggy from savage treatment handed out by an uncompromising French front row, had to be dragged off the field by his captain and medical team, so reluctant was he to leave the pitched battle.

2000, athlete, individual, rugby,

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