Rugby Canada Youth Program

April 05 2018

Rugby Canada rebranding Feb 2018

Rugby Canada Announces Men's Age Grade Plan Focused on U18 and U20

Rugby Canada announced an age-grade plan focused on U18 and U20 male players. The RC press release is below, we'll go through it to see what actually is new.

- They're renaming the Canada U19 as the Canada Youth XV and will include 19 year olds
Not much to this one, call it rebranding and allowing U20 eligible players

- They'll send two teams to USA after Xmas break
The last two years, U19 in 2016 and U18 in 2017 they've sent teams post Xmas to the USA. In 2016 they sent one U19 team, in 2017 they sent two U18 teams. So this really isn't new, it's expanding and formalizing existing youth tours to USA. They refer to "utilizing the North America 4 (NA4) format" this was a senior men's format that was in place for 3 years from 2006 to 2008. The NA4 was introduced in 2006, the Canada teams were East and West, the USA teams were Falcons and Hawks. The winner all three seasons was Canada West. The Rugby Canada release doesn't indicate if the Canadian teams will again be regional.

- From these squads a long list will be established for the U20 camp in May
Again this isn't too far off what they've done the last two years, plus they've had European tours the last two years, there's no mention of European tours in the new plan.

- change to the existing Rugby Canada U19 program to better align with and support the U20 program
No details on this but perhaps means changing the age level of the competition to include 19 year olds. The Youth XV label allows a certain amount of last minute tinkering with the age limit.

- two U18 teams travel to Arizona
This is what they did last year post Xmas.

- Canadian University All-Star XV will play a 2 game series against the USA Collegiate All-Stars in June
This was announced in November after the University Championships.

In summary this announcement seems to be formalizing cross border matches in the post Xmas time period. They've been happening the last two years but now they are committed to a four year time period. They apparently will happen at both the U18 and U20 age grades. There's no word on European tours and what role they will play as they have the last two years.

At the time of writing there hasn't been any equivalent news release by USA Rugby. Which brings up the question, from their perspective is this new or in their interest to publicize as new?

from Rugby Canada

Rugby Canada is proud to announce a four year performance development plan with USA Rugby. Focusing largely on U18 and U20 age grades, the plan utilizes the North America 4 (NA4) format and will streamline the performance competition pathway.

“This is another step forward in our relationship with USA Rugby and we are excited to continue building for the future of our game” said Ken Goodland, Coordinator, Player Development and Talent ID.

“Through this initiative we will streamline the Talent ID approach and collaborate with our provincial unions to work toward the same goal.”

There will be a change to the existing Rugby Canada U19 program to better align with and support the U20 program. What will now be dubbed Rugby Canada Youth XV, this program will move to include the top 18 and 19 year olds in immediate contention for the next U20 campaign.

From a Talent ID perspective this program will target the CRC U19 tournament and university rugby programs ultimately supporting Rugby Canada sending two teams to USA in the post Christmas break. From these squads a long list will be established for the spring period and players will be monitored and provided feedback ahead of a May U20 selection camp.

The U18 program remains the same but with a greater collaboration with provincial unions to increase focus on high school rugby. “our intention is to work with the provinces to complement the existing focus we have on club and provincial rugby.” says Ken. “This will create greater depth for U18 program immediately and support a larger player pool for the U20 program.” Two U18 teams will head to Arizona and similar to the U20 program, a long list will be established and tracked for selection to a U18 spring event.

Another exciting piece builds on the additional focus Rugby Canada recently put on University rugby and complements the targeted ages of 19-23. A Canadian University All-Star XV, chosen from the University championships last November, will play a 2 game series against the USA Collegiate All-Stars. This will happen in June and plans to be tied to one of Rugby Canada’s test match weeks. “Student athletes can be some of the best in the country and we want to provide another opportunity for that group to showcase their talents”

“We know with hard work and long term focus we can provide the right tools for our young athletes to develop into international and professional rugby players. Development takes patience and we feel this four year plan gives our men’s programs a solid foundation to build on.”

Negotiations are currently taking place to build a similar plan for women’s programs and is inclusive of age-grade, cross border university competitions and senior programming. One that is unique and appropriate to the current system and works to provide long term stability for our women’s game.

Pemberton Holmes
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