Rugby Canada Updates – January 2023

Rugby Canada Add Two More UK Hirings to be Shared with Toronto Arrows – Bombrys States Arrows Provide Canada’s Only Professional High Performance Environment

New CEO Nathan Bombrys is doubling down on bringing in offshore expertise and doubling down in his belief the Toronto Arrows are the solution to the men’s XVs problems. Rugby Canada announced Alex Lee, previously with Ealing Trailfinders, and Richard Owen, previously with the Welsh Rugby Union, will be hired and embedded with the Toronto Arrows for the season. Outside of the MLR season they’ll be assigned Rugby Canada team duties. It’s an arrangement similar to Robert Howley’s, there’s no word if World Rugby are also paying these salaries, as they do for Howley.

Bombrys, who is based in Ottawa, made it clear that he doesn’t consider the national 7s and Pacific Pride setups in Langford as professional high performance environments when he stated, “The Toronto Arrows provide the only professional high performance environment in Canada, and we greatly appreciate and value our partnership with them”. That doesn’t bode well for Langford as one of the recommendations in the High Performance report was to “optimize for or shift Rugby Canada’s geographical presence”.

It’s not looking promising for a quick turnaround on the fortunes on the men’s XVs program. We may have gone from bad to worse in the CEO department, we wanted a Canadian CEO with a background in Canadian rugby, we got an American CEO with a background in UK rugby and the early decisions are showing that.

Alex Lee

Rugby Canada
Lead Coach – Performance Strength and Conditioning
Jan 2023 – Present · 1 mo
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Working as Head of Performance with the Toronto Arrows, competing the the MLR.

Rehab Athletic Performance Coach
Ealing Trailfinders Rugby Club · Full-time
Aug 2021 – Jan 2023 · 1 yr 6 mos
London, England, United Kingdom

Richard Owen

Performance Analyst
Rugby Canada · Contract Full-time
Jan 2023 – Present · 1 mo
Toronto, Ontario, Canada · On-site

Lead Performance Analyst
Toronto Arrows RFC · Full-time
Jan 2023 – Present · 1 mo
Toronto, Ontario, Canada · On-site

Rugby Performance Analyst Rugby Performance Analyst
WRU · Full-time
Aug 2021 – Jan 2023 · 1 yr 6 mos

from Rugby Canada

Rugby Canada is pleased to announce the hiring of Alex Lee, Lead Coach – Performance, Strength and Conditioning, and Richard Owen, Assistant Coach – Support Analysis, who will be embedded within the Toronto Arrows this season.

In a deepening of the partnership between Rugby Canada and the Toronto Arrows, Canada’s Major League Rugby team, Lee and Owen join former Wales and British and Irish Lions coach Rob Howley, who is returning for another season as the Arrows’ Attack Coach. In addition to their duties with the Arrows, all three coaches will integrate with and support Rugby Canada’s women’s, men’s and age-grade programs across the rugby season.

Alex Lee has been hired in the role of Lead Coach – Performance, Strength and Conditioning. Lee has extensive experience working as a performance and strength and conditioning coach with rugby teams in the UK, including the Ealing Trailfinders RUFC, Richmond FC, London Welsh RUFC, and England Rugby. Outside of rugby, Lee has coached athletes from various sports and spent five years as a Senior Sports Scientist and Physical Performance Manager with the UAE Armed Forces. He has also worked as a consultant with Rugby Canada at HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournaments and at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

In the role of Assistant Coach, Support Analysis is Richard Owen, a former performance analyst for the Cardiff and Vale College Rugby Academy and the Welsh Rugby Union. Owen’s work with the Welsh Rugby Union included filming, coding and analysis for the Welsh Premiership, the National Colleges League, and the Women’s National Team.

In working with both Rugby Canada’s programs and the Toronto Arrows, Lee and Owen join Rob Howley, who is returning for his third season as a Senior Assistant Coach with Canada’s Men’s Team and a consultant with the Toronto Arrows. A former player, Howley captained Wales before taking up coaching and working with Wales and the British and Irish Lions.

“We’re very excited to be working with Rugby Canada to appoint two coaches with proven track records at the top levels of the sport,” said Bill Webb, Toronto Arrows President and General Partner. “Alex and Richard will bring a wealth of top-tier professional and international experience with them to Canada, with Canada’s national teams and professional team both in a position to benefit significantly from their expertise.”

“We’re looking forward to working more closely with Rugby Canada to support rugby’s growth in our country, and to use our collective resources to continue developing our sport from the grassroots to professional levels.”

Twenty-two Canada-eligible players are rostered with the Toronto Arrows this season, with 10 who are capped with Canada’s Senior Men’s Team for a combined 115 games, including national team captain Lucas Rumball (full list below). Coming from Canada’s Men’s Sevens Team is Ciaran Breen, who signed with the Arrows in November. Additionally, five Canadians have been named as the club’s 2023 High Performance Academy Athletes. This inaugural cohort of under-24 players are part of the Toronto Arrows Academy and will train regularly with the Arrows Senior Team throughout the season.

“The Toronto Arrows provide the only professional high performance environment in Canada, and we greatly appreciate and value our partnership with them,” said Nathan Bombrys, Rugby Canada CEO. “We are pleased that we can support our partners at the Arrows and deepen our close and long-standing relationship with them in this way. Alex, Richard and Rob bring outstanding rugby knowledge and experience that we believe will contribute to and enhance the success of the Arrows and the Canadian players in their system.”

The Toronto Arrows’ first pre-season game is set for January 27 against the New York Ironworkers in suburban Detroit, followed by a pre-season meeting with Old Glory DC in Springfield, Virginia on February 10. The team opens the regular season on February 17 versus Rugby ATL in Atlanta. The full Toronto Arrows 2023 season schedule can be found here.

2023 Toronto Arrows capped Canadian players
Ross Braude
Ciaran Breen
Cole Davis
Mason Flesch
Jack McRogers
Shane O’Leary
Tyler Rowland
Lucas Rumball
Owain Ruttan
Mike Sheppard
Corey Thomas

2023 Toronto Arrows High Performance Academy Athletes
Tom Artmann
Brenden Black
Jacob Ince
David Scollon
Hank Stevenson

Posted in Rugby Canada.

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