Rugby Canada Updates – October 2021

Canada Men’s XVs Program Fail to Qualify for World Cup: The Fallout

Canada have been to every World Cup since it was organized in 1987, that’s 9 in total. They won’t make it to #10. There’s a lot of soul searching going on in the rugby community. Here are some of the on point reactions.

Curry Hitchborn has a lot of street cred in my view. He coaches, arguably, the best university program in the country. He’s coached BC age-grade teams to numerous national championships. He’s provided a lot of players to the Canada U20 program. He selected the original Seattle Seawolves team that won them back to back MLR championships. He was a major force in getting the Coastal Cup off the ground, and had to battle some BCRU administrators along the way to get it done. These are some excerpts from his twitter account, follow him @CurryHitchborn.

“A tragic comedy of nepotism, tribalism, cronyism and ineptitude at an administrative level for the last decade. My condolences to the athletes and staff that had to make the sacrifices they did just to get here. The knock on affect here is going to get real, real quick.”

“I don’t think this is a selection issue, Garry. Nor do I think that it’s helpful to immediately play the international card. They have to coach what is available and what is available is horribly restricted by the current administrative process. Onus is on the leadership…”

“I’m not buying into the shocked indignation and the “boys learned some valuable lessons” drivel. @RugbyCanada is a tire fire and it needs an overhaul. You and I have been having this conversation for a good long while. And we’re not the only ones.”

Former national team player, Admir Cejvanovic, joined in with this remark, which Curry endorsed with a like,

“Accountability… it’s a real thing… years and years of mismanagement and the @RugbyCanada “big dogs” collecting incredible pay cheques has led this. Our men’s 15s team have always been set up to fail. To the boys that played today, believe me a I share your frustration.”

“Cheers Andrew. They’ll do a review, look at what money is left over and start by carving out programs and not removing the bloat from the top down. Things will get worse here shortly.”

“No idea. The point is, people are still playing rugby. Good people are still working in rugby. It’s not time to hit the rage button but time to engage and invest in what’s available and be present.”

“There’s loads of talented people with strong backs ready to help. Wanting to even. Time for some to step aside or down and listen while they’re headed out.”

I think Curry’s views are shared by a lot in the rugby community at club level. There’s very little faith left in Rugby Canada, another review by them without significant changes in leadership will erode that support even more.

Another voice that is popular with the financial backers of rugby is Chris LeFevre, the former Rugby Canada and World Rugby board member. There are those in the rugby community who put significant money into the sport, much of that has eroded under the current leadership and will likely further erode if changes aren’t made.

I don’t agree with all of his points, I don’t think Mike Chu and Steve Lancaster had the answers for Canadian rugby, there are a lot of Canadian coaches and administrators who understand what needs to be done and understand the Canadian rugby landscape. We’ve tried the foreign experts who try to implement a system that worked in their country, the only one who came close to getting it right was David Clark who came from a country as vast as Canada and understood the challenges that created.

LeFevre does a summary that I could support.

– Clean house
– Create a cabinet of the “right” men and women to come up with the plan to rebuild from the ground up
– Learn from other Canadian sports

Rugby at the national level, administered by Rugby Canada, is in disarray. We’ve watched the women’s 7s program implode off the field and subsequently fail at the Olympics. We’ve now watched a demoralized men’s XVs team fail to make the World Cup for the first time. It’s time to stop applying band aid solutions to a faulty structure. There’s momentum for change now, let’s hope it happens.

Posted in Editorials, Rugby Canada.