Ultimately, on the world stage, we strive to have our teams qualify for Men’s and Women’s future Rugby World Cups, and the Canadian 7s teams successfully achieve medal-winning performances at future Olympic Games.
In 2017, the high performance programs alone accounted for over $7.8 million, bringing our high performance program expenditure to over $32 million over the next 4 years. For context, while Canada has seven times the population of Scotland, Scotland spends six times the amount of money Canada does on their national team programs. While we have made great strides in our investment, we have much work to do to catch up with Tier I World Rugby nations and Olympic programs.
In early 2018, a long-held dream became reality when the Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre opened its doors. The Centre is the home of Canadian Rugby and represents the single largest investment ever made by Rugby Canada in our pursuit to make Canada a contender against the world’s best. This facility delivers a world class daily training environment where athletes can feed off one another, compete and grow –and raise the bar day after day together.
For many talented young athletes, the financial barriers to access sport at the high performance level are immense. A competitive athlete with potential to move up in the sport system will face a range of costs in order to make the leap, including training and equipment fees, higher level coaching and international competition travel expenses. By funding our age-grade teams we give the best young athletes increased access to our programs and a chance to stay in rugby. We will retain the best of the best when we eradicate the current pay-to-play model.
Rookie Rugby introduces the game of rugby in a safe way for kids of all ages through schools, clubs and community centres. The game is a non-contact form of rugby using flag belts, allowing players to learn the basics while being active and having fun with their friends. In 2018, Rookie Rugby saw over 90,000 children participate in rugby for the first time!
The Rugby Canada Age Grade programs act a vehicle for talent development and identification for youth playing within our provincial unions. These programs are designed to commence athlete tracking and introduce them to the national training environment with a goal to work up to our Senior National teams. With hard work and long term focus, we can provide the right tools for our young athletes to develop into international and professional rugby players.