From the Editor's Desk - November 2021

November 18 2021


BCRN Let's Rugby
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From the Editor's Desk: MLR, Coastal Cup, World 7s Series and More



MLR

The MLR season starts February 5th, the schedule is here.. Seattle will host Toronto on Sunday the 6th and the following Friday, February 11th, Toronto will host the defending champion LA Giltinis at Starlight Stadium in Langford.

The regular season ends June 5th and this year there will be an extra layer of playoffs with #2 vs #3 in each conference, the winner meeting the conference #1. The grand final taking place the weekend of June 25/26.

There will be preseason games in January, already there has been mention of the UBCOB Ravens travelling to Toronto to take on the Arrows and a Coastal Cup All-Star team travelling to Seattle to take on the Seawolves.

The MLR has been a great tool for increasing rugby's visibility in local markets, the MLR has done a good job on marketing and building a fan base. It has also given players a chance to train full time with modest compensation. It hasn't however been a boon to the national teams. The USA with 11 MLR teams and a mostly MLR squad failed to get by Uruguay in the RWCQ qualifiers, they face Chile next. Canada with 1 MLR team and a mostly MLR squad failed to get by Chile and are eliminated from World Cup contention. The quality of MLR is not good enough yet to ensure national success among Tier 2 peers.

A player should have to be in the elite of that league to make the national squad, just making it onto a MLR club is not enough. Ben LeSage is one of those players, one of Canada's best in recent years, he was one of Toronto's best, he's been traded to the LA Giltinis. He now joins Corey Thomas and DTH in LA. All three of those players have shone in the MLR competition and also at the national level.

If you look at Canada's men's soccer team recent success, they had a starting lineup with 6 European pros and 5 domestic (Canada/USA) pros. It's a formula that would likely work well for Canada in rugby. That of course is contingent on management changes being made so European rugby pros would be motivated to play for Canada again.

Coastal Cup

The Coastal Cup wrapped up its inaugural year. It was a start but a mixed bag. There was some resistance towards it from club sources, the organizers tried to build the bridge by holding games at various club venues. One area it needs vast improvement is in marketing and presentation. The live streams in particular were hit and miss, some done well (Van East), some not bad (TWU), some were dreadful and most games were not streamed.

If the reasoning is that this is for the players, their growth and development, then highlighting them to a larger audience in a professional manner is imperative. Commentators who know the name of the players is a minimum requirement as well as a quality stream with camera work that zooms in when needed.

The company that did the Van East streams, the best of the season, charges $500 per match, $750 for double header and I'm guessing $1000 for triple header. That makes sponsorship imperative, instead of tasking the teams with the live stream, the league needs to come up with 5 figure sponsorship so it can take over that responsibility.

Next year, whether it's the Coastal Cup or the McKechnie Cup would matter little to fans and players, what matters is the sponsorship and professional presentation. Whether the BCRU or the Coastal Cup crew can bring that to the table remains to be seen.

Personally I'd like to see the season start early September with a triple header at Starlight Stadium, professionally marketed and produced, and then the next weekend at a similar venue in Vancouver to put the competition on the map.

World 7s Series

The Sevens Series 2022 kicks off in a week's time in Dubai. Canada men are in a pool with Fiji, Australia and France. The World 7s series website has the team listed already, Andrew Coe, Anton Ngongo, Josiah Morra, Elias Ergas, Brennig Prevost, Jake Thiel, Jack Carson, Matt Oworu, Nick Allen, Alex Russell, Ciaran Breen, Matt Percillier, Phil Berna.

On the women's side the World 7s series website doesn't have the pools or squads announced. However they have the fixtures and Canada will play Fiji, Ireland on the Friday and Great Britain and Russia on the Saturday. The winners of each pool vie for the title, 2nd vs 2nd, 3rd vs 3rd, etc.

New Zealand are absent from both the men's and women's tournament.

In player news Ghislaine Landry announced her retirement.

Pacific Pride

The Pride recently announced their graduates who are going onto MLR teams. They are as follow:

Foster Dewitt
Hometown: Courtenay, BC
Years in Academy: 1.5
Previous Clubs: Port Alberni Black Sheep, Westshore RFC
Professional Club: New England Free Jacks

Liam Murray
Hometown: Langley, BC
Years in Academy: 2
Previous Clubs: Langley Rugby Club, James Bay AA
Professional Club: Dallas Jackals

Emerson Prior
Hometown: Brockville, ON
Years in Academy: 2
Previous Clubs: Trent University, Peterborough Pagans
Professional Club: Utah Warriors

James O’Neill
Hometown: Cochrane, AB
Years in Academy: 2
Previous Clubs: Calgary Canucks, University of Victoria Vikes
Professional Club: Toronto Arrows

Dewald Kotze
Hometown: Edmonton, AB
Years in Academy: 3
Previous Clubs: UBCOB Ravens, Strathcona Druids RFC
Professional Club: Dallas Jackals

Community Rugby

The HSBC Bank in partnership with Rugby Canada have announced a community rugby fund. Details and application process are detailed at the link below.

rugby.ca/en/news/2021/11/hsbc-bank-community-rugby-fund

Suspensions

A few weeks ago World Rugby started publishing their discipline decisions. In retrospect it was leading up to the high profile announcement of Rassie Erasmus.

This in part is what it said concerning Rassie Erasmus:

An independent misconduct committee has found that behaviour displayed by SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus towards match officials during this year’s test series between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions constituted misconduct.

Rassie Erasmus

- Suspension with immediate effect from all rugby activities for two months
- Suspension from all match-day activities (including coaching, contact with match officials, and media engagement) with immediate effect until 30 September, 2022
- A warning as to his future conduct and an apology to the relevant match officials.

SA Rugby

- A fine of £20,000
- A warning as to future conduct and an apology to the relevant match officials

Caught up in these recent discipline announcements were two Canadians, Laetitia Royer and Michael Smith.

Laetitia Royer

Canada second-row Laetitia Royer appeared before an independent judicial committee via video link having received a red card as a result of a combination of two yellow cards in Canada’s international match against USA in the World Rugby Pacific Four Series on 5 November, 2021. One yellow card was awarded for an offence pursuant to Law 9.8 (repeated team offences) and the second for an act of foul play contrary to Law 9.13 (dangerous tackle).

The independent Disciplinary Committee chaired by Juan Pablo Tafernaberry Elorza (Uruguay), joined by former international referee Donal Courtney (Ireland) and former international player Martyn Wood (England), heard the case.

Having considered the matter, the committee decided that the ordering off was sufficient and that no further sanction was necessary.

Michael Smith

Canada flanker Michael Smith, appeared before an independent judicial committee via video link having received a red card in Canada’s international match against Belgium on 13 November, 2021. The red card was awarded for an offence pursuant to Law 9.16 (dangerous charge).

The independent Disciplinary Committee was chaired by Marcello d’Orey (Portugal), joined by former international players Olly Kohn (Wales) and Mike Ross (Ireland).

Having acknowledged mitigating factors including the presence and timing of an acknowledgement of wrong-doing, the player’s disciplinary record and good character, the player’s remorse for his conduct and the player’s conduct prior to and at the hearing, the committee reduced the six-week entry point by the maximum mitigation of 50 per cent, resulting in a sanction of three weeks (to be served as the following given the player’s upcoming schedule):

6 February, 2022 - San Diego Legion v Utah Warriors – Major League Rugby
12 February, 2022 - San Diego Legion v Dallas Jackals – Major League Rugby
20 February, 2022 - San Diego Legion v Seattle Seawolves – Major League Rugby

The player may apply to take part in the Coaching Intervention Programme to substitute the final match of his sanction for a coaching intervention aimed at modifying specific techniques and technical issues that contributed to the foul play.

Pemberton Holmes
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