Rugby Canada: A shocking report on the state of play

The much-anticipated report released today from the independent firm responsible for studying Canada’s high-performance rugby program is indebted to the national organization.

The Calgary company also retained the services of independent professionals to carry out its business, which began in November 2021 and ended last January. The company identified 12 key ideas about high performance. The first is devastating.

“Rugby Canada does not have a high-performing strategy,” the 17-page report said, a strategy described as empty or non-existent. Within this culture and leadership vacuum, bad behavior takes hold in all areas of the program. »

The report continues: “Many described the program as unhealthy or dangerous.” Current and former players say they are not proud to wear Canadian rugby jerseys. The high-performance program is in an awkward position. »

Leaders are harshly marked for their inability to develop a high-performance strategy and their inability to create an environment conducive to an athlete’s growth.

“In essence, a system malfunction is a failure on the part of leadership, either through acts of omission or direct actions. Management has not effectively managed the needs of the high-performing program in the short and long term.

“Organizational leaders have also failed to create and maintain an environment that truly supports and empowers high-performing athletes. Given the current situation, athletes are rebelling against the system, leading to growing organizational dysfunction and the continued deterioration of top-level results.”

Disappointing results

Canada was unable to qualify for the men’s 2023 Rugby World Cup, and the women’s 7-A team had disappointing results at the Tokyo Olympics last summer.

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However, these two failures are seen as good news by many of the athletes interviewed as part of the survey. “Canadian rugby can no longer avoid making long-overdue changes in reality. This need for change is even more urgent when you consider the external forces that make up international rugby. The level of competition increases as the Tier 2 and Tier 3 countries develop and improve.”

The first stage

Board Chair Sally Dennis acknowledges the findings and assures that the organization will make the changes requested in the report.

“The findings validate a number of concerns about the high performance environment and culture that prompted the review,” it said in a statement. Some of these concerns have already been addressed, but the picture the report paints underscores the need for major changes. »

“I intend to establish an inclusive and collaborative process for responding to the report’s findings with representatives of staff, athletes, and key external stakeholders,” she added.me Dennis. Report findings are only the first step in this process. »

athletes satisfaction

Canadian rugby team Sevens member at the Tokyo Olympics Elisa Allari is pleased that the investigation confirms the athletes’ complaints.

“Canadian rugby has finally done what it should have done for so long by outsourcing an investigation to an offshore company,” Alari said. I work in the business world and business like Canadian rugby will be closed a long time ago. »

In their preparations for the Olympics leading up to Tokyo, the girls of the Canadian team denounced the culture and environment in which they were immersed, leading to the departure of head coach John Tate.

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“I am relieved that it is now written in black and white the problems we saw and which we denounced, stressed Alarie. The report confirms what we have said. Since we received the report two weeks ago, there has been relief and the climate has been better. Athletes deserve a healthy environment. It can’t continue like this. We lived six months of anxiety before stepping on the ground in January to denounce the climate and the violations.There were problems in all four programs not just on the women’s team at seven.

change track

The Trois-Rivieres native thinks it’s possible to turn things around.

She explained, “We are starting over. The Olympic Games in Paris are still a long way off and we have a good rugby union team. The only way forward is to acknowledge the problems. They raised their hands to admit there were problems and asked how we can find solutions together. The procedures must now follow. The report on the Canadian rugby website is a big step in the right direction. It requires transparency that hasn’t existed in the past.”

lack of funding

Many people wore two or three hats. “Because of the lack of money, Rugby Canada was hiring coaches and staff based on friendships,” she said. It was a club of guys who played together. There was no internal strategy, no leadership. The same person can occupy two or three roles. »

Team centralization at 7 o’clock in Langford, Vancouver Island is another issue raised in the report.

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