Rugby Canada Updates – March 2024

Christiaan Esterhuizen Appointed Canada U20 Coach and Pacific Pride Coach

The former Meraloma coach who hails from South Africa has been appointed to the dual role of Head Coach of the Pacific Pride and the Canada U20 team.

The question will come up, “is he the right person” and the answer should be “we’ll wait and see”. He did have a big role in the turn around of the Meraloma men’s program. If you go back to the 2019-20 season, the Lomas were near last place, 3 wins all season. The 2021-22 season, they had 1 win out of 8 games.  Then in the 2022-23 season they made the final, this year they’re top of the league. Is that turnaround due to great coaching or great recruiting, or a combination of both, will those skills transfer to a development program where you are limited to Canada eligible players? Again, it’s wait and see.

Our earliest records have him arriving in the fall of 2021 when he coached the Vancouver Wave team in the Coastal Cup. He does have a few years of Canadian rugby under his belt which puts him way ahead of someone just parachuted into the Canadian rugby scene.

His role as Canada U20 coach is the one that will require immediate attention. The USA is Canada’s biggest rival at the U20 level, only one of the teams advance to the JWRT tournament as the North America representative. Going back over the last decade Canada won in 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019; USA won 2016, 2023; COVID cancelled 2020, 2021, 2022. The teams alternate hosting and it’s Canada’s turn to host this year, Canada have done very well when hosting but lost badly last year when USA hosted.

The two game series against USA takes place June 1st and 8th, and will be hosted in Victoria, likely Shawnigan Lake. We’ll see what he does with the Canada U20 team this year before we start the commentary.

from Rugby Canada

Rugby Canada is pleased to announce that, following consideration of over 50 applicants, Christiaan Esterhuizen has been appointed Head Coach of the Pacific Pride Development Academy and Canada’s U20 Men’s Rugby Team. Esterhuizen will commence his new role as of Monday March 11.

As Head Coach of the Pacific Pride Academy, Esterhuizen will work alongside Phil Mack, who was appointed as the Attack Coach of Canada’s Men’s Rugby Team in January and will remain in the role of Technical Lead for the Pacific Pride. In addition, Esterhuizen’s appointment will see him drive the national U20 men’s program.

“Christiaan brings a fresh energy, perspective and passion, allied with in-depth technical planning and preparation, and will add value to the Pacific Pride program and Canada’s U20 Men’s Rugby Team,” said Stephen Aboud, Rugby Canada High Performance Director. “With Christiaan working alongside Forwards Coach Hubert Buydens, and with the leadership of Phil Mack, we have a strong technical balance that will drive the players to higher levels of understanding and competence. We’re delighted to have Christiaan join our team in laying down the foundations for future success.”

Educated at the famous Grey College in Bloemfontein, South Africa, Esterhuizen has successfully held Head Coach and Director of Rugby positions at Grey College and the University of Cape Town. Since relocating to Vancouver, he has coached with the Canada West Selects, BC Bears, Meraloma Rugby Club, and Vancouver Wave. Esterhuizen also recently served as a coaching consultant to UBC’s men’s rugby program.

“Christiaan has a wealth of experience developing successful programs and players throughout his coaching career, and the work that he has done domestically speaks for itself,” said Mack. “There is no doubt that Christiaan will bring a lot of energy and passion to the program.”

The Pacific Pride are in the midst of their BC Men’s Premier League season, which continues this Saturday against Burnaby Lake Rugby Club. The team will also play an exhibition match against Trinity Western University on March 16. More information about the 2024 season for Canada’s U20 Men’s Rugby Team will be announced shortly.

Posted in Coaching, Front Page, National Men's XVs.