From the Editor's Desk: Rugby Canada Reviews; Francois Ratier Announces his Next Rugby Chapter; and Reflecting on Dan Baugh - from Edmonton Clansmen to Pacific Pride (CCSD) to Professional Rugby in Wales
With Canada's recent exodus from 2023 contention, it has prompted some reflection in the Canadian rugby community. Rugby Canada are doing another review, but with their history of committee and review failures, there's not a lot of confidence this one will make a lot of difference. If you want to read up on it there's an article in the Canadian Press
. Basically "the review panel will consist of Calgary’s STRAAD Consulting, led by president and CEO Megan Luu, along with Own The Podium’s Mel Davidson and World Rugby’s Mike McGovern." There's some concern that the review won't be independent and look at broader issues such as leadership, as Rugby Canada has created a committee to "support and facilitate the review" that includes CEO Allen Vansen and several board members.
Another newsworthy story today on the topic of performance of national teams, is news that Francois Ratier will leave his position as Director General of Rugby Quebec. In a statement by him on Rugby Quebec's facebook page he states, he will devote himself to "activities as Rugby coach and consultant starting January 2022." We wish him all the best and hope he can find his way back to helping the national men's program get back on track. He was the successful coach of the women's XVs program that won Silver at the 2014 Rugby World Cup. He then stepped in as interim head coach of the men's XVs program when Kieran Crowley left, leading the men to their best finish at the Americas Rugby Championship in 2016. If Rugby Canada had any sense they would have made him the permanent head coach, but they didn't, instead hiring Mark Anscombe and then Kingsley Jones for that position.
The article today is about looking at more successful times for the men's XVs program, and in particular the players from that era and their backgrounds, and what they have to say about Rugby Canada. Today we'll look at Dan Baugh.
We came across this gem of a podcast from Cardiff Blues
that was from June 2020. It's about 45 minutes and well worth the listen. We've extracted some main points from the podcast that are focused on his time in Canada and his background here.
It's a bit ironic that Baugh's last test was a Rugby World Cup Qualifier against Chile in Calgary in 2002, Canada won that 27-6. Nik Witkowski scored Canada's two tries, Bobby Ross slotted a conversion and Jared Barker kicked 5 penalties.
This week, Mike speaks to another Arms Park cult hero - Dan Baugh.
Baugh spent seven seasons at the Arms Park, joining Cardiff RFC in 1998 before retiring through injury in 2005.
The Canadian international inspired a generation with his abrasive, all-action style of play combined with his unique collar-tucked in and socks down look.
Baugh reminisces on his upbringing in Canada, his switch from American Football to rugby as a 16-year-old, injuries, iconic moments in Blue and Black and his journey to become one of the game’s leading S&C coaches.
- Dan's father was an RCMP drill sergeant. Dan was put into wrestling and judo from the age of four.
- He was born in Regina, moved around the country and by the time he went to high school in Edmonton he had played many sports, swimming, soccer, football, baseball, wrestling, judo but not rugby.
- He was a free safety in football, sometimes playing as an extra linebacker. One of the reasons he left football is because there was a culture that you had to be "on the gear" (reference to steroids) to progress to the next level. He had friends who played both football and rugby and they convinced him, "stay in shape for football, come out and play rugby". When he went out to rugby, the coach slotted him in at #7, and as he said "I never looked back".
- He talked about the Canadian team of that era, players weren't students of the game, they loved the physicality.
- He talks about the transition rugby made from amateur to pro and how Tier 2 nations got left behind, as for the money put back into Tier 2 nations, "it's up to those unions to use that money well, and for whatever reason, Canada seems to have fallen behind". [ed. note, Canada have not spent the money well, which is one reason why Canada didn't make the World Cup this cycle.]
- He took up rugby at 16 and made the national age-grade team almost right away playing Canada U17. He continued to advance through the national age-grades. He attributes that to being "brave" and "having the physical side of it which definitely set me apart".
- By the time he got his pro debut in Cardiff he had only been playing 4 or 5 years.
- He loved the culture of rugby, that when he was 16 he was playing with men, and having a beer afterwards. [ed. note this was 30 years ago, society has changed.]
- His early background in individual, combative sports (wrestling, judo) helped him handle pressure and taught him to be accountable for his performance. When he went to a team sport, he welcomed the ability to share those things but that early background in individual sports helped him.
- John Tait recommended him to Cardiff, Dan explains the connection to the CCSD (Pacific Pride).
- Dan says the fact the CCSD (Pacific Pride) has been restarted is a big positive for Canadian rugby. [ed. note the current Pacific Pride is not funded by the Commonwealth fund as it was originally.]
- Dan says the environment that he experienced at the CCSD for two years prepared him for professional rugby and was actually more stringent than the environment he went into at Cardiff.
The interview then goes on to focus on his time at Cardiff and Wales. After leaving Cardiff, he worked for Wales as the Conditioning Coach before taking a position at Wasps in the English Premier. He recently returned to Wales and is the Strength and Conditioning coach at the Dragons.
It's a testament to his Canadian roots that he mentions the CCSD and Edmonton Clansmen on his professional summary page at his current job with the Dragons.