Rugby Canada is the national governing body of the sport of rugby union in Canada. In that role, it currently serves over 29,000 registered participants in a variety of roles, from players to coaches, club administrators, and referees. The sport of rugby in Canada has seen a year over year growth for the past two decades, with women and youth leading that increase.
Encompassing all ten provinces, Rugby Canada provides support via administrative oversight and implementation of registration and insurance programs. This allows rugby in the provinces and various regions to focus on the development of the sport in the respective catchment areas. The investment in the grassroots program Rookie Rugby has allowed Rugby Canada to reach new sport and recreation enthusiasts at the youth level.
Rugby Canada has created a number of key national championships to allow participants from across the country to test themselves annually and also allow selectors to preview the next generation of rugby player from around the country.
Player welfare is also a key component of Rugby Canada, with the implementation of World Rugby’s Concussion Protocol program being introduced to all the provinces and support provided by key trainers to help identify and keep safe all participants. To emphasize its commitment to player welfare, Rugby Canada implemented a program specifically designed to educate those involved in the sport on the importance of injury awareness, prevention and recovery. This program is called Rugby Canada Play Smart – Putting Players First.
From the modern perspective, it certainly has proven to be a dramatic journey from the earliest days of the sport in the 1860’s when it was first played in Canada amongst sailors from visiting nations at coastal ports of call. Despite the advent of North American football and the Canadian Football League, rugby’s DNA in Canada is obvious, including the CFL’s Grey Cup being recognized as the Rugby Football championship trophy until the 1930’s.
In 1974 the formalization of the sport occurred as the Canadian Rugby Union was formed, and incorporated by the Government of Canada, which became the foundation for today’s Rugby Canada organization.
Canada’s men’s fifteens team has participated in all Rugby World Cups since that competition’s inception in 1987. The Canadian women’s fifteens team has been to all seven Women’s Rugby World Cup competitions, hitting a high note by making it to the Cup final in 2014, losing to England in an exciting game.
The sport of Rugby Sevens (7’s) has also been a huge success for both the men’s and women’s programs, with the advent of the World Rugby Sevens Series seeing tournament stop championships on three occasions for the women and once for the men. In 2016 Vancouver was added as a host city on the men’s Series, while Langford has hosted a women’s event since 2015.
The inclusion of Rugby Sevens into the Olympic family at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio saw the Canadian women enjoy bronze medal success. Both the men’s and women’s teams will be participating at the 2018 Sevens World Cup in San Francisco.
Rugby Canada receives support from various levels of government, independent sports agencies, and World Rugby, as well as through fees from participants. The commercial side of Rugby Canada sees that role take place in Richmond Hill, Ontario, while the playing side and a number of key administrative roles are based in Langford, British Columbia, home to the Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre and the centralized offices for coaches and other key support staff.