What to Make of 2022 – Rugby Highlights and Reflections
2022, what to make of it from a BC and Canadian rugby perspective? Obviously the top story is the women’s World Cup, Canada finished 4th, maybe a little disappointing for the world #3 team but they represented well, the tournament gained a lot of media coverage and progressed women’s rugby worldwide. Sophie de Goede probably put herself at the top of the list for most media-recognizable rugby player in Canada now, male or female.
The University championships went fairly well, both hosted in BC. Laval from Quebec winning the women’s tournament and UBC the men’s.
The national 7s teams are still trying to find their form, the women’s program hasn’t fully recuperated from the player revolt against former head coach John Tait, the team went from a Bronze medal, #3 in the world team, to a middle of the pack team, 7th in 2022, currently 9th. The men’s program dropped a bit in form 11th pre-COVID to 14th in 2022, currently 13th. The men’s program is in danger of being relegated from the series with the men’s series dropping from 16 teams to 12 teams in 2024.
The men’s XVs is still in limbo with no decision being made on the head coach after the team failed to make the World Cup for the first time. They played 4 games in 2022, losing to Spain and defeating Belgium in the summer and losing to Namibia and defeating Netherlands in the fall.
Off the field, at the national level, a new CEO, Nathan Bombrys, was hired but hasn’t made an impact yet.
BC did well in youth rugby, the girls won the BC Summer Games. BC swept the U16 and U18 age groups in the Western Championships and won the U19 Men’s Canadian Championship with a 4-0 record.
The BC Premier got back on track in 2022 with UBC winning both the men’s and women’s titles in May. The 2022-23 season kicked off in September and restarts in February.
The Coastal Cup continued into its 2nd year in an altered format, with the Pride and the 3 university sides. The Pacific Pride won the title.
The MLR ran into some controversy and kicked out its LA and Austin teams before the playoffs. New York won the title over Seattle.
The Canada U20 men got back into action and hosted a tournament with Uruguay, Chile and Zimbabwe. Canada defeated Chile but lost to Uruguay and Zimbabwe to finish 3rd.
The Pacific Pride program continues to be a feeder program to the national teams and pro rugby. A number of players progressed to Canada, Canada A, MLR opportunities. Leaving the program at the end of 2022 will be Cody Nhanala, moving to Australia to play in the Western Australia Premier league with UWA, a move that perhaps will get him a shot with Western Force. Kyle Steeves will be going to Dallas, Ciaran Breen to Toronto, Seth Purdy to Atlanta, all teams in the MLR.
If you were to apply labels then perhaps from the national perspective, 2022 was “The Year of Women’s XVs”. From a BC perspective it might be “The Year of Youth Rugby”.
Next we’ll move on to things we’d like to see in 2023 to improve rugby in BC and Canada.