Tony LaCarte and Conan Cooper appointed as Rugby Development Officers

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by Andrew Smith, BC Rugby Communications

February 28, 2014, VANCOUVER, BC (ISN) – Tony LaCarte and Conan Cooper have been appointed as Rugby Development Officers (RDO’s) it was announced today by BC Rugby. As of April 1st, the RDO’s will be working in a full-time capacity to develop networks in their respective regions with coaches, athletes, volunteers, BC Rugby staff and the general public.

Based in Victoria, LaCarte will be responsible for the Vancouver Island-Northern BC regions. Cooper will be based in the Lower Mainland and will be working primarily with the Vancouver-Fraser Valley regions. 

“Both Tony and Conan bring a wealth of experience, skill and enthusiasm to the RDO positions,” said Jim Dixon, BC Rugby Chief Executive Officer. “Their positions are a direct result of the recent strategic planning consultation process. Clubs, schools, players and leaders in the rugby community expressed the need to provide greater support and focus on ‘grass-roots’ stages of the Long Term Player Development Pathway.” 

clientuploads/-Photos_NewsandEvent_Articles/RefCoach/2013-14/WEB-Conan-Cooper-profile-photo.jpgConan Cooper, RDO Vancouver-Fraser Valley
A certified NCCP Level 2 Rugby Coach and trained Olympic Weightlifting Club Coach, Cooper has training as a Rugby Canada Learning Facilitator and Coaching Association of Canada Master Learning Facilitator. Cooper is also a certified BCRRS Rugby Referee and is currently pursuing Level Two certification. Since 2006, Cooper has been involved with coaching and organizing rugby at various levels from minis through to high performance. 

Cooper is currently coaching at Burnaby North Secondary, Burnaby Lake Rugby Club and has been re-appointed as the BC Bears Strength and Conditioning Coach for the upcoming Canadian Rugby Championship. Before moving to BC in 2011, Cooper worked extensively with the Calgary Canucks junior rugby programs and among other junior team management positions, was also the Alberta Summer Games Zone 3 Head Coach and Manager. 

“I’m honoured to be invited on board now, where rugby in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley is poised and ready to capitalize on a solid base of development,” said Cooper. “We have so many opportunities to grow the sport at all levels in BC with exciting provincial and national programs growing each season.” 

“My primary goal in the next few months is to embody a program for collaborative development of rugby in these regions,” Cooper added. “The first objective is to connect our clubs – each with a unique culture – within a common culture for development of rugby in BC. We can then target and plan how clubs will uniquely approach recruitment and lifelong retention of players at all levels.” 

clientuploads/-Photos_NewsandEvent_Articles/RefCoach/2013-14/WEB-Tony-LaCarte-profile-photo.jpgTony LaCarte, RDO Vancouver Island-Northern BC
A former national team player who excelled in both sevens and 15s, LaCarte has been heavily involved in coaching youth rugby since hanging up his boots. LaCarte has coached at the high school level with Elgin Park in South Surrey and currently dedicates his time as an assistant coach at Calremont High School in Victoria. LaCarte has also coached at the representative level with the BC Elite Youth Sevens program and is on the coaching staff for the new UVic Vikes Rugby Academy.

A former intern at the Canadian Sport Centre Pacific in Victoria, LaCarte has experience in working with national team athletes, performance services and coordinating cross-agency programs. 

“I’m very excited by the opportunity to strengthen youth rugby programs and develop new relationships in the community,” LaCarte said. “There are some great grass roots programs already operating around the province and there is potential to start new ones that will allow club and school rugby to become more sustainable.” 

“The main goal for me during the first few months of this position will be getting out into the communities on the Island and Northern BC regions to meet as many people as possible that are involved at all levels of the game,” LaCarte added. “I want so listen to people in the rugby community and further identify the needs of individual programs on a case-by-case basis.” 

BC Rugby Strategic Plan – RDO Appointments
The introduction of full-time Regional Development Officers is a result of the recent strategic priorities review conducted by BC Rugby this past Fall. Key responsibilities for the position include working with member clubs to establish and maintain a comprehensive picture of the current playing position and develop strategies to develop existing players. BC Rugby will be looking to further support clubs to develop and maximize relationships with schools, colleges and universities and other local organizations to actively recruit new players. The RDO’s will also be looking to assess and improve club management and governance, drawing on specialist expertise where appropriate. 

“I think it’s important to recognize that this is a marathon, not a sprint,” Dixon added.. “The objectives for our Rugby Development Officers are about creating and clarifying pathways and support for players, coaches and volunteers, which will bare fruit some five or ten years down the line. With a collective approach from all rugby stakeholders, I’m certain we will see very positive changes in the BC rugby landscape.”

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