Rugby Canada Strategic Plan 2024

Rugby Canada Announces Strategic Plan for 2024-2027

Rugby Canada released its Strategic Plan for the next 3 years. We’ll provide a review of the plan and for reference we’ve included the previous plan, 2021-23. We’ve also included the NZ Rugby Union Strategy 2025 for comparison purposes.

2024-2027 Strategic Plan
2021-2023 Strategic Plan
NZRU Strategy 2025

It’s handy going into the review to remember these are just words, empty words to start, until the organization shows the ability to meet their targets. A review of the targets for national team performance from the 2021 Strategic Plan shows that most were missed. It’s particularly galling to the Canadian rugby community that they extended the contract of the men’s XVs coach even though missing a key target, NSM15s qualify for RWC 2023. As one reader noted on social media, “Extending Kingsley [Jones’ contract] goes against everything they said they want to do. Certainly not walking the talk.” That’s the issue, how much faith does the Canadian rugby community have in Rugby Canada to back up their words with action, not much.


• NSM15s qualify for RWC 2023
• NSW7s achieve podium finish at Tokyo 2020 and qualify for Paris 2024
• NSM7s achieve top-8 finish at Tokyo 2020 and qualify for Paris 2024
• NSW15s achieve a podium finish at RWC 2021 and directly qualify for RWC 2025
• Continually improve and maintain a robust nation-wide talent ID system

They changed the term “targets” to “outcomes” in the new plan. The outcomes are not quite as ambitious in 2024, instead of the women’s XVs achieving a podium finish at the World Cup, it’s to be in contention to win the World Cup. Instead of the women’s 7s achieve a podium finish at the Olympics, it’s compete in the Olympics.



The opening page of the plan is an introduction by the Chair of the Board, Sally Dennis, it’s self-congratulatory in nature. It does however indicate that Rugby Canada recognizes their existing shortcomings, “When implemented, the plan will solidify the foundation of rugby in Canada, restore the confidence of the rugby community and its supporters, and re-awaken our players’ pride in wearing the jersey.” Yes, currently there is little confidence in Rugby Canada and the players’ pride in wearing the jersey is questioned when the European professionals won’t commit to the men’s XVs program.

The Strategic Plan introduces the slogan “One Squad”, the current CEO hasn’t been here long enough to remember we had something similar introduced in the past, “AsOne” and “RISEAsOne”.  The 2016 and 2017 summer internationals were tediously referred to in Rugby Canada’s media releases as the “RISEAsOne Summer Series”. The slogan mercifully died out by 2018. Slogans don’t create a community or a winning culture or much of anything, yet here we are. The community wants to see measurable actions, not slogans.

The Plan continues on with some “feel good” concepts, Ethos, Ambition, Purpose with photos of Sophie de Goede throughout, the Christine Sinclair of rugby. We continue our search for some tangibles.

A little chuckle on page 8 when they list “Our Commitments” and mention “Make the Tough Decision”, reference previous comment on XVs head coach. Also they list “Build on What Came Before Us And Honour Rugby’s 150 -Year History in Canada”. I doubt either the Chair or the CEO know much about the history of Rugby in Canada, perhaps reading our series on the 1902-03 team that toured the UK might be a start. Also they might try engaging previous national team coaches and listening to what they have to say, I know Gary Johnston (head coach 85-89) aka Jono, would love to have a word.

It’s page 13 before there’s something actionable and measurable, “Establish regional training and playing environments in Canadian cities to prepare players for international rugby”.  On page 15 it revisits the idea, “Target four hubs by 2025”. This will be interesting to follow.

On page 14 some items worth discussing, “Re-purpose 7s to develop players for 15s and compete in the Olympics.” It’s a point I’ve wondered, how are you going to develop a backline player, particularly a #10, when there’s virtually no strategic kicking in 7s and kicking skills are a significant problem in Canadian XVs development. Also how are you going to develop tight five players when they,  generally, aren’t suited to 7s rugby.

Also on page 14, “Play a leadership role with World Rugby and other unions to create the future international
calendar for Canada.” It sounds a little delusional to think Canada would have much say with World Rugby on the international calendar for men’s XVs.

A few more points that sound like they should already have been dealt with in the past,  “Establish a framework for evaluating and monitoring the quality of the game throughout the pathway, Establish criteria for coach evaluation and appointments throughout the pathway, Implement a framework for high performance coach development and continuous professional development.”

By page 16 it’s talking about financials and “self generated revenues”, a novel concept for a business [sarcasm]. They mention “Host up to four major events each year that deliver significant economic and societal impact to Canadian cities and provinces and generate a net positive financial contribution to Rugby Canada, and re-design the revenue model of events to increase the financial contribution to Rugby Canada.” I thought Rugby Canada events mostly paid out to Rugby Canada, perhaps they’re talking about the Vancouver 7s and revenue sharing here with World Rugby and contractors. There’s not much here for clubs and community.

Page 17 deals with Broadcast Partnerships, and this is where some innovation can take place, “Invest in high quality Canadian Rugby content to distribute through broadcast and digital media.” We’ll see how this plays out.

Page 18 deals with how they’re going to get more money from donors and “professionalize the philanthropy apparatus”.  Again this goes to reputation and trust, a lot of big money rugby people have walked away from Rugby Canada because they couldn’t make the “tough decisions”. They have a lot of work to do here.

Page 19 deals with how they’re going to be a better organization, we’ll wait and see on that. Also, “establish clear roles and responsibilities between Rugby Canada and our member Provincial Sports Organizations”, thought this was already in place, it would have been nice to see the PSO’s take a larger role in Rugby Canada governance as members, going back to that question, how did that coach contract get renewed against public opinion and failing targets?

On page 20, “Develop an effective communication strategy to improve connectivity between Rugby Canada and the PSOs, clubs and individual participants.” It’s one of the few places clubs are mentioned. Again it’s wait and see, just words at this point. For ages I’ve been asking for an organization chart and list of contacts, it used to be a standard practice.

Page 20, another chuckle, “Attract and retain great people committed to contributing to the success of Rugby Canada and invest in their development.” Rugby Canada have a history of  retaining deadwood and getting rid of the great people, Damian McGrath, Jamie Cudmore, John Tait, Francois Ratier to name a few. That’s not even mentioning the ones they should be hiring to turns things around. It’s a big wait and see on this one.

That’s it, it ends on page 21 with a photo of Cooper Coats interacting with youth. In total there were six photos of the women’s team, including three of Sophie, and four of the men’s team. The previous Strategic Plan had a cover photo of Jamie Cudmore and Ghislaine Landry with a youth player, and a second photo of Charity Williams hugging Kayla Moleschi, presumably after winning Olympic Bronze in 2016. Things change, the Strategic Plan at the present time is words, nothing more. We’ll see if Rugby Canada can action these items and if they make decisions that “restore the confidence of the rugby community”.

There’s a lot that hasn’t been covered, the U20 program, the U18 program, clubs, community. The first objective mentioned  in the 2021 plan was “Cultivate the community game”. In the 2024 plan, the word club is used twice, once in a communication aspect, the other in a financial aspect, how to get clubs to support Rugby Canada events. There’s five mentions of community, two of them are how to get the community to give more,  under Targeted Philanthropic Strategy, “Provide purposeful opportunities for our community to support us in improving our teams and programs” and “Invest in communicating the financial gap to our community members to demonstrate how philanthropic support will help our national teams achieve their highest potential.” Apparently the only investing Rugby Canada is doing with the rugby community is to invest in communicating they need your money. That pretty well sums up what’s in this Strategic Plan for clubs and community, prepare to give more, prepare to be told to give more.

Posted in Front Page, Rugby Canada.


  1. The CEO’s comments relating to clubs in a CBC article covering the plan make the situation for clubs more clear: “From a Rugby Canada perspective our focus is going to be on high performance and being a leading sports organization and raising money. Those are the three focuses. What we’re saying is we need the grassroots and we want the grassroots to survive,” he added. “It’s now about aligning who actually does the grassroots.”
    It sounds like they want the club money but have no intention of doing anything for, or with, grassroots – their strategic plan has essentially set clubs adrift of Rugby Canada, without even a plan for how grassroots rugby and clubs will be supported. Not so strategic then.
    This isn’t a strategic plan, it represents a complete breach of the trust of the Canadian rugby community.

  2. This is a power point presentation, not a plan. It has nice pictures and a good layout, but lacks any real substance as far as I can see.

    It cements in my mind why Canada is outside the top 20 and has been for over a decade now.

    Rugby Canada needs real critics, critics who can hold decision makers accountable publicly. But this cannot happen as rugby in Canada is a small community and speaking up against a poor performance by leadership will spell certain doom for their playing, coaching or managing career.

    So with Canada continues to flounder outside the top 20 with no sign of improvement in sight.

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