Rugby Canada Announces New MOU with Canadian Rugby Players Association: A Look Back on the Player Strike of 2018 and Formation of CRPA in 2020
Rugby Canada announced a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed with the Canadian Rugby Players Association (CRPA) which marks the beginning of discussions on a new collective agreement. The CRPA was started in 2020 and its first chair was Jeff Hassler.
There have been various player movements over the years but the push for the formation of a formal players association can probably be credited to the men's 7s team of 2018 led by Nathan Hirayama. The team went on strike at the beginning of the 2018 season and boycotted training. They were "unhappy at the new offer and training conditions" offered by Rugby Canada. They started a process for union certification. This CBC article from November 2018
gives the details. Rugby Canada finally acquiesced by November but didn't let go of the grudge, they ended up terminating coach Damian McGrath who had supported the players throughout their job action.
Rugby Canada would much prefer dealing with a Players Association rather than a union so the way forward had been cleared. Rugby Canada credits Jeff Hassler for forming the current Canadian Rugby Players Association in 2020 and being its first chair until 2021. The Canadian Rugby Players Association (CRPA)
doesn't appear to be affiliated with the International Rugby Players Association (IRPA)
as neither website acknowledges the other. IRPA members are Australia, England, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, Romania, Scotland, South Africa, USA, Wales.
Meaghan Howat is currently listed as the chair of the CRPA, directors include Laura Russell, Elissa Alarie, Brett Beukeboom, Ben Lesage, Temitope Ogunjimi, Doug Fraser, Pam Buisa, Olivia Apps, Andrew Coe, Liam Underwood. from Rugby Canada
Rugby Canada and the Canadian Rugby Players Association (CRPA), the representative body for national team players, are pleased to announce the signing of a new memorandum of understanding.
This MOU is the basis of a joint partnership between Rugby Canada and the CRPA, the aim of which is to guide collaboration between both parties and provide support to national team players.
“Our priority as the CRPA is to protect, promote, represent and develop Canadian national team players,” said CRPA spokesperson and women’s representative Pamphinette Buisa. “With the signing of this MOU, our goal is to continue to serve that mandate by establishing a supportive and unified player community to effect change in the lives of our past, current and future members in a united way.”
“We are seeking to enhance the internal cohesiveness between the national programs to improve player performance and wellness on and off the field of play,” said CRPA spokesperson and men’s representative Andrew Coe. “Through this partnership with Rugby Canada, we will explore and develop on and off field support, as well as support for players transitioning out of the sport."
As partners, Rugby Canada and the CRPA intend to work together on developing a support pathway that promotes player welfare and assists in developing players’ careers beyond the rugby pitch.
“This MOU is an important step in enhancing and deepening our partnership with Canada’s national team players,” said Nathan Bombrys, Rugby Canada CEO. “We value our players and want to support them in such a way that they can be at their best when representing Canada and continue to thrive once they move on from the sport. We see this partnership with the CRPA as vital to helping us achieve that.”
Rugby Canada and the CRPA are now engaging in discussions to develop a new collective agreement, and will continue these discussions over the coming weeks to set out a framework for the partnership for the next several seasons.