From the Editor’s Desk – August 2020

Rugby Canada Update Talent ID Program; TWU Add Guiseppe du Toit to Coaching Staff; England and Wales Scrap Sevens Programs

While rugby is in a bit of a holding pattern in many parts of the world there are some updates with organizations planning for rugby to come back online in the near future. Some of it positive, using the time to update programs, some of it negative with funding being lost to programs.

On the positive, Rugby Canada have updated their Talent ID program, adding an Athlete Management System, confirming Adam Kleeberger’s role and identifying a point person in the UK to work with scouts in the UK and Ireland. Although finding UK players with ties to Canada is a plan B, we hope Rugby Canada continues to push plan A which is to improve the pathway for national U20 and Pacific Pride players into the senior team, and to identify high potential crossover athletes to enter those pathways.

TWU have hired Guiseppe du Toit as a coach when he isn’t playing for the Toronto Arrows. Du Toit was at one time a contender for the national #10 spot but never quite put a stamp on the position, he’s been used as a centre more recently by the national squad and the Arrows. At 25 he still has plenty of time to mature into an international #10, looking at the game from a coaching perspective may help in that regard.

On a more negative note, both the Welsh and English 7s programs have been hit with funding cutbacks which leaves the programs adrift. The article from RugbyPass is appended, in part, below with a link to the full article. One interesting comment from the WRU performance director is that they don’t anticipate any top-level 7s competition until April 2021. That doesn’t sound promising for the Vancouver 7s in March.

from Rugby Canada

Rugby Canada announced the launch of revised men’s talent identification programs in both Canada and the UK/Ireland targeting potential players for national age grade and senior teams. Originating in late 2019, both programs share the common goal of identifying elite Canadian eligible players to enter performance pathways and contribute to the growth and development of Canada’s National men’s rugby teams.

Domestically, the National Talent ID Program will be led by former Canadian International, Adam Kleeberger. Kleeberger will lead a team of 50+ scouts, nominated by Provincial Unions, across Canada searching for elite athletes and rugby players to enter Rugby Canada pathways. This program is intended to identify players with potential to represent Canada on the international stage and be offered professional contracts in MLR or other professional leagues. Targeted player groups for U18, U20, Academy, and National 7s & 15s pathways include:

Age Grades (16-20 years old)
University Athletes (18-22 years old)
Senior (19+)

“I am excited to be a part of this important initiative. In collaboration with regional partners and a national scout network we are creating opportunities for players who have the ability and desire to play for the national team. COVID-19 has delayed our work, however when rugby can safely return our scout network will be attending high school, club, regional, and provincial rugby games to identify many of the players who will someday represent Canada on the international stage,” said Kleeberger.

In July, Rugby Canada partnered with The Sports Office to utilize a data management platform to enhance Talent ID capabilities. This robust system will support both Kingsley Jones (Director, Men’s Rugby Performance) and John Tait (Director, Women’s Rugby Performance) to track and monitor both current and future national team players. Over the coming months Rugby Canada will see over 1000 targeted male and female players uploaded to The Sports Office system advancing its capabilities in Talent ID and Recruitment. Read more on The Sports Office Athlete Management System here:

To support the domestic ID program, an overseas program has been established in the UK and Ireland led by former Bath Rugby professional, Scott Hobson. Hobson will work with a network of scouts across the UK and Ireland and serve as the primary Rugby Canada contact for players who may be Canadian Eligible and are currently playing in England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales. A Canadian based in the UK, Hobson has a keen interest in aiding the growth of Canadian rugby by identifying players such as Canada 2019 Rugby World Cup selectee Peter Nelson. James Pritchard, who represented Canada at four Rugby World Cups and is Canada’s all-time top points scorer, is another example of a player who was identified as Canadian eligible.

To be eligible to represent Canada, players must fulfill one of the following criteria:

– Player was born in Canada;
– One of the players’ parents were born in Canada;
– One of the players’ Grandparents were born in Canada;
– Player has completed 36 consecutive months of Residence immediately preceding the time of playing (effective January 2022 this will increase to 60 consecutive months).

Canada Head Coach Kingsley Jones stated, “We know there are talented rugby players with Canadian connections globally and this is a further step in identifying them. To compete in the modern international game a diverse talent ID network is required and when possible, we look forward to expanding the program to other regions such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.”

For more information on Rugby Canada’s Talent ID Programs please contact:

Adam Kleeberger (

Scott Hobson (

from TWU

Canadian international centre Guiseppe Du Toit is joining Trinity Western University’s men’s and women’s rugby programs as a backs coach, starting this fall.

Du Toit comes to the Langley-based school having already earned 14 caps with Canada, including five in a starting role. Most recently, the product of Maple Ridge, B.C. was a mid-tournament injury replacement for Canada at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, where he came on as a late-game substitute against eventual champion South Africa.

Professionally, Du Toit has spent each of the last two seasons playing with the Toronto Arrows of Major League Rugby and is preparing for his third year with the Canadian club this spring. In his first two years with the Arrows, he’s appeared in 16 matches, including starting all five games in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

“The path and discipline that Guiseppe has had in his professional and international career is what I’d love our Spartans to follow,” says Andrew Evans, TWU’s Director of Rugby. “Guiseppe’s faith and character and values are right in line with us at Trinity Western and he’s really excited about developing our Spartans as Complete Champions.

“Of course, we are also extremely supportive of his professional playing career with the Toronto Arrows. He will be fully available to the Arrows, but he’s also keen to continue to develop our Spartans while he’s located in Toronto.”

Du Toit joins a Spartans coaching staff that also includes fellow Canadian internationals Hubert Buydens, who will coach the forwards, and Julia Sugawara, who will be an assistant coach with the women’s program. Both Buydens and Sugawara return this fall, having both coached with the Spartans last year. An announcement about a new defence coach will be made later this week.

“It’s a growing Canadian rugby program and I’m thrilled to be a part of that and to help shape it,” Du Toit said. “At the same time, the coaching experience will no doubt shape me as a player, which makes this an invaluable opportunity. It’s a new rugby program, but they’ve had lots of success already and there’s no ceiling on how far this program can go.

“I think it’ll test my rugby knowledge and know-how. I’ve worked with excellent coaches, so now to be able to translate what I’ve learned and share that with the players will be pretty special. And while there’s the rugby component, there’s so much more at TWU. It’s about developing people and that’s what this program is all about.”

Du Toit, 25, played collegiate rugby at the University of Victoria, and is set to earn his Bachelor’s of Science in Biology degree this fall. The Canadian star made his international debut against Chile on Feb. 11, 2017, starting at centre in a 36-15 win. He also played with Canada’s U20 side in 2015 and first donned the senior Maple Leaf with Canada ‘A’ in 2016.

from Rugby Pass

Scrapped: Wales have binned their 7s rugby team just weeks after England shelved theirs

Just weeks after it emerged that the RFU were scrapping their England 7s programme, rugby officials in Wales have done likewise with their World Rugby Sevens Series team. A statement issued on Friday afternoon read: “The Welsh Rugby Union can confirm that its men’s sevens programme will cease to operate in its current format for the foreseeable future due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19.

“The global nature of the pandemic and its financial implications, including the disruption of the World Rugby Sevens Series, has rendered the programme unsustainable in the current climate. Following a difficult start to their 2019/20 World Rugby Sevens Series campaign, Wales’ men were placed in last position when the season came to a premature end in March.

“Unfortunately, while we have seen the return of regional rugby in its current restricted form, it’s unlikely the sevens programme would be preparing for any top-level competition until at least April of next year. The realities of a reduced funding situation have made this impossible for us to sustain.”

Read full article

Posted in Editorials.