BC Rugby partners with Wellington RFU to launch exchange programs

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January 25, 2013, VANCOUVER (ISN) – Today the British Columbia Rugby Union launched a new partnership with the Wellington Rugby Football Union in New Zealand. The partnership is made possible through the support of BC Rugby premier sponsor TrueBlue and is one of the three pillars of the “TrueBlue Tackle the World” platform.


The partnership with the Wellington RFU provides opportunities for both players and coaches to be fully immersed in arguably the world’s top rugby environment. Through the agreement, BC Rugby has the ability to send up to two athletes between the ages of 17-19 to Wellington, and for no less than 15 days per visit annually. While in Wellington, the players will attend applicable Wellington Rugby Academy sessions. Athletes will be provided individualized instruction with some of New Zealand’s best high performance coaches. The athletes will be affiliated with one of 18 clubs in and around Wellington, and take part in the club sessions as well.

The TrueBlue Tackle the World program also presents an opportunity for the annual Gerald McGavin Coaching Award winner to spend two weeks with Wellington’s Academy, provincial representative side the Lions and / or their Super Rugby Franchise the Hurricanes. A fund within the Canadian Rugby Foundation, the Gerald McGavin Coaching Award will now provide an annualized and individualized mentoring program with New Zealand Rugby Union High Performance coaches. The Gerald McGavin Coaching Award winner will also be partnered with a local premier club in Wellington, each of which has a full-time Development Officer.

“In the constitution of the Wellington Rugby Football Union we stated that our Union shall foster and encourage the growth of rugby football primarily within its own boundaries but also extending to other areas as appropriate,” stated Evan Crawford, High Performance Manager of Wellington RFU. “In partnering with the British Columbia Rugby Union, we are growing our global network, learning from another Provincial Union, and providing an opportunity for British Columbia players and coaches to be benefit from the world-class leaders who are part of our Union.”

“We perused a partnership with Wellington RFU as there are few, if any, provincial sport organizations as aligned from Junior club to a fully professional franchise as they are,” said Jeff Sauvé, Chief Executive Officer of the British Columbia Rugby Union. “For the individuals who travel to Wellington, the professional development opportunity is immense. For the development of our Union, we gain an appreciation and understanding of how Wellington strategically develops their domestic athletes and coaches from a grassroots club-based perspective.”

Gerald McGavin Coaching Award

The Gerald McGavin Coaching Award is the result of an endowment held with the Canadian Rugby Foundation. The award recognizes rugby coaches from British Columbia who play a significant role in shaping young athletes both on and off the field. Gerald McGavin is a former BC athlete who represented his province against world-renowned sides including the Barbarians, Australia, British Lions and New Zealand Universities. Now a Member of both the Order of Canada and Order of BC, McGavin created the Award because of his love for the sport and to acknowledge the role rugby played in shaping his life. Past recipients include Jeff Williams (2010), Martin Jones (2010), Jason Young (2009), Adam Roberts (2008) and Tom Larisch (2007).

Wellington Rugby Football Union

Founded in 1879, the Wellington RFU is the official governing body of rugby union in the city of Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. A total of 18 clubs comprise the Wellington RFU, with the top teams competing for the Jubilee Cup, the region’s premier trophy. Wellington FC has the longest continuous existence of any club in New Zealand. The Lions are Wellington’s senior provincial representative side which competes in the ITM Cup against 13 other provinces from across the country. The Lions have won the provincial competition four times since its inception in 1976. Wellington is also the home of the world-renowned Hurricanes Super Rugby franchise which plays its rugby out of the 36,000 capacity Westpac Stadium. Born out of the advent of professional rugby at the end of 1995, nine New Zealand provincial rugby unions came together to form the Wellington Hurricanes for the start of the inaugural Super 12 competition in 1996. The franchise was New Zealand’s largest, representing more than 920,000 people. Famous players to have donned the Hurricanes jersey include Jonah Lomu, Christian Cullen and Tana Umaga. Current All Blacks recently on the squad include Piri Weepu, Ma’a Nonu, Julian Savea, Aaron Cruden, Andrew Hore, Cory Jane, Victor Vito and Conrad Smith.

About TrueBlue®

TrueBlue® Blueberry Juice is a major proprietary brand developed by Leading Brands, Inc. [NASDAQ: LBIX]. and is now a Premier BC Rugby sponsor. In June of 2012, BC Rugby and Leading Brands, Inc. CEO Ralph McRae announced a partnership with TrueBlue® Blueberry Juice to sponsor three specific, age-level programs through BC Rugby. Each TrueBlue® titled program was positioned at a pivotal period in a rugby player’s career; from the introduction to the sport all the way up to international tours. The motto for the innovative partnership was established as TrueBlue® Tackle the World™. McRae’s initiative has seen TrueBlue® further enhance the Mini Rugby program, as well as provide opportunities for age grade representation through supporting the U15 and U17 men’s provincial teams.