BC Youth Rugby

March 24 2016

Trouble in Rugby Paradise: BC Clubs Not Happy with BCRU Youth Policies

posted March 24 2016
[ed. comments below]

An open letter was circulated around the BC rugby community and addressed to Annabel Kehoe the CEO of BC Rugby. It was signed by the Presidents of three clubs, though I suspect many more are in agreement but haven't had an opportunity to get involved yet. It basically tells the BCRU that there are worries about the path the BCRU are taking in regard to youth rugby. It's a problem that's been festering for a while but was perhaps escalated by the BCRU pushing through a new U18 men's structure (see document "Proposed U18 changes put forth by BCRU" below). That document states "All parties are in agreement that the new format will not only increase the standard of Representative rugby in the Province, but will also contributing to the growth of the game by addressing a variety of issues." It's become clear that the "all parties" mentioned did not include a large portion of the stakeholders in the rugby community involved with youth rugby.

The open letter brings up the following concerns:

- Is the money received by BCRU on behalf of youth rugby actually being spent on youth rugby
- High fees for services offered and restricted playing opportunities
- Falling membership and numbers of teams
- Focus on high performance is reducing footprint at the age grade level
- Change in national championships resulted in higher costs and less opportunity for age grade athletes
- BCRU shift towards high school rugby sending mixed message to clubs
- Changes to U18 PRCs not done with proper consultation
- BCRU needs to lead in marketing youth rugby
- BCRU Regional Development Officers focus mostly on high performance, need to also align with clubs on marketing and increasing numbers

The recommendations are as follows:

- Increased Youth Focus and Resources
- Improve communication and consultation
- More detailed financial reporting
- Youth representation on BCRU Board

The details can be read in the document, "Open Letter to BCRU from Presidents of Capilano, Bayside and Meraloma"

From an editor's point of view I see a bigger problem in that the BCRU does not have a clear idea of their mandate and purpose. The document below "BCRU President's Report 2015" set off some alarm bells last year. I spoke to the issue in an article from June 2015.

Basically the BCRU was asking "who do we primarily serve, the clubs or Rugby Canada". They didn't know and still don't by the looks of it. These are how the points were worded in the President's report.

(a) Is "rugby development in BC" the prime focus for the BC Rugby Board?
(b) Who does the BC Rugby Board serve – individuals (players, coaches, referees, volunteers), clubs, and/or the national rugby body?

From my point of view, yes, rugby development in BC should be the BCRU prime focus. Development is a vague word though and that needs to be sharpened up a bit. I've often felt the top league like the Premier or any new league that wants to be professional (like PRO Rugby North America) would be better served by another body other than the BCRU. I don't know how many times I've heard from people attending the BCRU AGM that the men's Premier league issues again hijacked the discussions when there were more important "development" issues to discuss. Last year it was the Seattle issue that took over the AGM.

The second question is easier to answer from my point of view, the BCRU serves the clubs not Rugby Canada. If the BCRU is in a quandary over this then perhaps it's time to channel more of the club fees and youth development funds to the sub-unions who have a clearer focus on their club responsibilities. In the end it's the money that does the talking and dictates the priorities.

Reference Documents

Open Letter to BCRU from Presidents of Capilano, Bayside and Meraloma

Proposed U18 changes put forth by BCRU

BCRU President's Report 2015

Pemberton Holmes
Real Estate Sales

Tom Woods' Listings
Heritage House Trophies
Lionheart Sports