James Bay AA - October 2019

October 29 2019


RE BCRU League Reorganization Proposal: An Open Letter to the BCRU Board of Directors, Chief Executive Officer and Members of the BC Rugby Community

Last Sunday, on behalf of the James Bay Athletic Association, I attended the presentation to Island Clubs for a revamped organization of leagues with in the BCRU. Emails announcing the meeting suggested “feedback sessions”. Instead I found myself subjected to a hard sell.

It was the presenter’s belief that it was imperative for the BCRU to reorganize the leagues to produce better rugby players. That in fact the Club community needed to share the responsibility for the poor performance of Rugby Canada at World Cup. The presenter also outlined issues of declining numbers and a decline in the standard of play. At no time were the ideas proposed directly linked to fixing these issues. Nor was there any reasoning presented for what had caused the decline in numbers or performance. I would like to note the performance measure was based on two years data plus the current season with no standard offered to measure against.

JBAA wants to remind the presenter that the BCRU is a collection of athletic organizations committed to directing the play and development of rugby in BC. That it is clubs that are the lifeline of the organization.

JBAA believes that we need continuity in our leagues. That we want to continue to have Premier and Reserved teams linked. We believe that offers the best opportunity for player development and insure player welfare on game days. We are happy with the current format. The best way we can help out the single team clubs in our area is to know now, what next year’s season looks like and then manage our game dates to accommodate single club teams in play. We welcome the practise of having the Pride play every team in the league once through the season but not participate in playoffs.

JBAA welcomes the concept of bringing the McKechnie Cup Competition back. But limit the competition to four teams (VRU, FV, VIRU and the Pride). That those teams meet four times through the year (single round robin and then a final game between the two top teams). Players could self-identity and practise Wednesday and as team management saw fit. These teams could be financed by the local union. These games could easily be slotted into the current schedule and not left for the Spring. JBAA believes this a reasonable number of teams and volume of games given the number of available players. That players participating in this competition will have an opportunity to showcase their talents to Rugby Canada officials.

At a meeting with BC Premier club management and coaches last year it was made abundantly clear by Rugby Canada Head Coach, Kingsley Jones, that the BC Premier League was not of the standard of play to produce international rugby players and that as players were identified Rugby Canada would find other opportunities for them. Fair enough. It appears that the Pride and MLR will be a big part of that solution. We wish them all the best. There for we should not be trying to create a model that Rugby Canada has no interest in. We best support RC through the inclusion of the Pride.

JBAA wants to ask for the BCRU’s help in dealing with what JBAA sees is our real issue. We need to sort out youth development. We need ALL our development officers to focus on growing youth participation rates and working on solutions to help convert youth players into club players. We want our Union to help us grow our base. JBAA also supports the need for more certified coaches and coach development. But please, can we just leave our leagues alone for a couple of seasons? Can we stop fiddling with the rules of competition? Can we have some continuity within our Union, the BCRU, allowing clubs to try and grow knowing full well what the next season will look like?

In conclusion, JBAA appreciates the work of the committee members and the CEO. We appreciate their concerns about the state of Senior Men’s rugby. But a much broader group needs to be involved in any process that would bring such significant change to BCRU clubs.

Yours in Rugby,

John de Goede
James Bay Athletic Association.

Pemberton Holmes
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