Sevens Update October 2016

October 18 2016

Back to Work - Sevens Correspondent Weighs In on Men's Sevens Program and Rugby Canada

posted Oct 18 2016
from BCRN 7s Correspondent

The national sevens players returned to work on the field and at the gym last week after some assurances that their grievances had been resolved.

Details of the ‘settlement’ remain vague with the usual spin-doctor approach by RC and disclosing nothing in the public forum.

It’s a disturbing trend that reeks of more mistrust by fans, followers and especially the players. Certainly those discharging the agreement should have insisted that the details were made public and put on display for everyone to see.

The national union was under incredible pressure to resolve the player situation after a World Rugby representative arrived on the west coast and basically said if things were not sorted out immediately then Canada’s participation of the global circuit would not be possible.

With assurances from the COE GM that the poison had been ‘removed’ from the situation word filtered down that the World Rughy chap was less than impressed with the state of affairs in the Langford offices and may not have taken a totally positive report back to his boss in Dublin.

Obviously this is not the first time the world governing body has had concerns about the state of affairs with rugby in this country. Several years ago RC was threatened with an audit by Dublin after some spending manipulations by Richmond Hill and at this juncture one has to wonder what message the World Rugby staffer took back to HQ.

So what has been resolved here? Did the players get what they wanted? And what is the outcome of all this going forward? Heavy questions – and frankly things may not have improved for the players to any degree as they hit the field and prepare for Dubai.

Immediately ahead is a camp in Florida for the squad followed by an aimless tournament in Trinidad where the “Maple Leafs’ are due to participate.

The selection of players for this tournament should indicate how this squad will be managed going forward.

The tournament itself and standard of play and participants involved is seriously substandard – and this has not been lost on the NSWT who are sending what appears to be an Under 18 development team. As usual they seem to get things right all the time!

Back to the questions of the day – did the players get what they wanted?

In short no, not at all – and the vague terms of reference for financial reimbursement leave the power and decision making clearly in RC’s court.

This open ended non-specific arrangement could well continue to fester like an open wound and sadly could be passed on to the new squad members who already have a distorted view of what’s going on at the COE. Simply put – “You can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”

What’s the outcome? Again – this situation has been going on for years and the bitterness has just increased as players become better informed and more vocal about their financial situation.

These are bad and unhealthy ‘traditions’ to pass on going forward.
Senior players report that they will always harbor bitterness and mistrust towards RC and their personnel – and those who have left the program in years past will confirm that response and same attitude.

The responsibility for this environment lies squarely on RC and their staff who cheapen the players and treat them like cattle in the Union Stock Yard outside Chicago – it maybe a shocking comparison but as each year passes less and less positive history evolves from the program despite the players efforts to be successful on the world circuit.

So what’s reasonable and what’s unreasonable in a situation like this?

No one has returned to the practice field with a big smiles on their collective faces – not one - and no one has stepped forward and said clearly “this is a really good deal for us”… And let’s be clear here – these players are close and have been together for many years now and their friendships dominate the landscape. Frankly they have more history than their RC bosses so no one gets fooled here.

For the incoming coach this is a less than ideal situation to walk into – and despite reports that the man has abundant coaching qualities and a personality to match there will be as much to accomplish away from the field as on the field… it’s a heavy load certainly.

From the outset it appears that the journey will be an arduous one on every front – and maybe it’s time for RC to front up and take responsibility for failing our players – that would be a place to start if they truly want to mend long standing attitudes.

There has to be an admission of guilt or responsibility that they have failed the game and the players instead of trying to ‘spin’ an impression that all is well.

Time will tell all – stay tuned Dubai is next

Pemberton Holmes
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