Editorials - February 2018

February 09 2018

Allen Vansen Apology Letter: What's the Reaction


[editor's comments below]

Within hours of Canada losing to Uruguay, Rugby Canada released the Allen Vansen apology letter. The letter seemed to be pre-written and ready to roll in case of this outcome.


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The reaction on facebook was swift and ranged from anger to supportive, but mostly anger.

All 150+ comments can be read in the facebook post shown below.



I added a few edits to the letter to show the response I would expect of a strong leadership, some accountability and personal ownership of the issue.


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I still can't understand some of the decisions taken by current leadership. The buck has to stop somewhere on these decisions, ultimately the CEO has to take ownership.

1. Why weren't Francois Ratier and Jamie Cudmore given the coaching opportunity considering the good job they did, on short notice, in the 2016 ARC?
2. Who made the decision to travel to the UK for preparation? How much did it cost? Who approved the decision?
3. Who made the decision to hire Kingsley Jones, what is his salary?
4. Who made the decision to hire Jim Dixon?
5. Has there been any review of the assistant coaches who have been there since Crowley's days?
6. Who made the decision to remove the 7s players from the program for XVs? Who approved the decision?

New thinking is needed for sure and that starts with the Directors. Should there be resignations? I think there should be an extraordinary general meeting called to see if there's the will for change and leaders willing step up and chart a new course. The problem of course is who votes, it's not the membership, the provincial unions would vote. Would the BCRU, for example, listen to its members and vote accordingly, not a lot of faith in that happening. The Rugby Canada By-Laws are not conducive to effecting quick change, they're actually designed to protect the status quo. So unless the leadership resign, the men's XVs program will continue under the heirarchy of Tim Powers (Chairman), Allen Vansen (CEO), Dustin Hopkins (acting GM), Kingsley Jones (Head Coach). You can try to contact them directly to voice your view and offer possible solutions but there's no guarantee there will be anything more than a "thank you for your comment" response.

As for Provincial Unions effecting change at an extraordinary meeting or the AGM in the spring. It's likely Ontario would take the lead as the largest union and, from what I've been told, have a leadership willing to take action. As for BCRU you would have to go through the Directors to push for change. Directors include Connie McGinley, Mike James, Jen Ross, Tony Watson, Doug Manning and Nik Witkowski.

The letter makes reference to "financial challenges" due to the loss, there's little sympathy there as Rugby Canada has been living beyond their means, their membership base, for a long time. The need for an organizational review may be forced on them, not of their own choosing, and that would be a positive. It would be time to document who is doing what and more importantly build a new organizational structure focused on achieving defined and measurable goals. This slimmed down, responsive organization would then be built from the ground up, everyone, from the CEO down, would have to apply for the new positions while new applications would also be considered. That is how a drastic organizational restructuring is done.

A lot of people in the rugby community are gutted over this, what's annoying is the standard template reply, "we're doing a comprehensive review". We want to see that the leaders are taking this personally not just another day at the office, or another chance for a business trip.

Pemberton Holmes
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