Editorials May 2016

May 14 2016

Is Vancouver Ready for Pro Rugby - What's Happening Behind the Scenes

posted May 14 2016
[ed. comments below]

The Vancouver Rugby Union has been getting some grief lately with their intermittent support of the McKechnie Cup but it appears they may have something better in the works. From talking to key people at the Union I've found their vision is to have a semi-pro team starting this fall called Vancouver Rugby. It sounds an awful lot like they're laying the framework for a franchise in the PRO RUGBY league to me. They are planning a Vancouver v Seattle match in the fall AND they will pay their players a match fee, that will be a first in BC. Also they're in contact with certain PRO RUGBY teams and want to challenge the league winner to an exhibition match. They have the financial backing and I've talked to those individuals as well, so they have the pieces in place to make it work. Still it's all talk right now, being a bit of a skeptic, I'll believe it when I see it starting to firm up but I like their way of thinking.

I see it as a top-down vs bottom-up discussion. Currently Rugby Canada and the BCRU determine the elite development structure, a top-down approach. The Canadian Rugby Championship and McKechnie Cup fall into those categories and they're becoming out of date and irrelevant which is indicated by the amount of player and fan support. Professional rugby is coming to North America and even though Rugby Canada and the BCRU might not like it if they don't own it, the bottom-up approach driven by player and fan support will be pushing it forward. The Vancouver Rugby Union's efforts seem to be in line with this way of thinking. I wish them all the best.

Pemberton Holmes
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