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Rugby Canada releases findings and recommendations of RWC Review Committee

LANGFORD, BRITISH COLUMBIA – Today, Rugby Canada released the findings and recommendations of its Rugby World Cup Review Committee. The recommendations of the committee have recently been accepted and supported by Rugby Canada’s Board of Directors.

The RWC Review Committee requested that its findings be shared with the Rugby Canada members and relevant stakeholders. This stance supports Rugby Canada’s goal of greater engagement and transparency with its membership, stakeholders and all interested parties.

The objective of the 2015 Rugby World Cup Review was to assess the performance of the Rugby Canada Men’s Fifteens Team, in particular their performance at the RWC 2015. Areas assessed were as follows:

•       Team technical performance

•       Support staff performance

•       Team environment

•       Assessment of the Head Coach’s performance

•       Rugby Canada’s men’s pathway and its impact on senior team results


Statistical information was also provided by World Rugby’s independent analyst and statistician, Ross Tucker provided excellent objective insight into the team and how it rated against both its Tier 2 and Tier 1 competitors. Rugby Canada’s own analysis had provided context to areas of positive performance and areas requiring development, the independent review allowed the Review Committee to assess against all nations competing at RWC 2015 and previous Rugby World Cups.



From above noted performance assessments, aided by the data from World Rugby, the Review Committee was asked to provide a recommendation to the Rugby Canada Board of Directors on the future technical leadership of the program, and any associated strategic and systematic proposals that improve the performance of the program.

The General Manager, Performance and Rugby Operation, Jim Dixon formed the committee to assess the performance of the program. The committee comprised of, Rugby Canada’s senior leadership (both Board and Staff), the appointed Men’s player representative, former Canadian international players and coaches, and representation from World Rugby. Committee members were as follows:

•       Dr. Pat Parfrey – Former Rugby Canada Coach, World Rugby Council Member

•       Gordon Sneddon – Rugby Canada Board, High Performance Committee Member, CRC Chairman

•       Jim Dixon – General Manager, Performance & Rugby Operations, Rugby Canada

•       Mark Lemmon – Interim CEO, Rugby Canada

•       Dr. Mark Lawson – Rugby Canada Board Member – Men’s Player Representative – Former Rugby Canada Player and Captain

•       Mike James – Former Rugby Canada Player

•       Pat Aldous – Chairman, Rugby Canada

•       Peter Horne – High Performance Manager, World Rugby

•       Rick Bourne – RC High Performance Committee Member, NACRA Representative


An engagement framework was established to ensure the committee could make an informed decision and recommendation on the future of the program. Part of that framework involved a series of meetings and feedback sessions. They included:

•       November 7: Provincial Roundtable Meeting – RC Semi-Annual Provincial Meeting, Halifax, NS

•       November 16 – 17: Rugby Canada RWC 2015 Program Review, Langford, BC

•       November 23 – 25: World Rugby Tier 2 Technical Debrief, Los Angeles

•       November 28: Canadian Rugby Championship Review Meeting, Toronto

•       November 30th: RWC Review Committee Meeting


Also a variety of methods were employed to collect information relating to the Men’s program:

•     Confidential 360 degree RWC player and staff feedback via survey monkey

•   Head Coach and Program Manager reports, followed by one-to-one confidential interview covering the following areas:


·      Rugby World Cup preparation – positives & challenges

·      Rugby World Cup 2015 – positives and challenges

·      Performance metrics, analysis and associated outcomes/results

·      Staff and player performance assessments

·      Conclusions and feedback from Rugby World Cup 2015

•      Group and personal interviews with specific members of the rugby public, all provinces, program

        partners and alumni. Interviews were focused around two specific questions:

·      What would you do today to improve Canada’s world ranking prior to RWC 2019? Please address where we should be two years from now and four years immediately prior to RWC.

·      What would you do to develop and sustain the funding necessary to achieve and sustain that?

•      RWC committee meetings in-person and via conference call

Following the aforementioned process and an assessment of both internal and independent team related data and information the review committee unanimously voted to recommend reappointment of Kieran Crowley on a contract to August 2017, the anticipated month of the 2017 Rugby World Cup qualifier.

The endorsement is however made on the condition that a variety of shortcomings in the Men’s program are addressed. The RWC 2015 Rugby Canada program review, combined with the World Rugby technical debrief clearly demonstrated the following issues/strategies must be implemented to ensure any appointed Head Coach of the National Senior Men’s Fifteens program is effective and successful:

•      Develop a Fifteens dedicated squad that is provided with sufficient competitive and meaningful   

        domestic, international games and test match fixtures.

•      A daily training environment that provides the Head Coach and support staff with sufficient time to

        prepare players for said international and domestic fixtures.

•      A far greater emphasis on the development of Canadian pathway coaches, to enable a Canadian  

        pathway coach to lead the program for the 2023 Rugby World Cup cycle. A key first step needs to    

        be the appointment of a Canadian pathway coach as Assistant Coach. In addition, a greater effort to

        engage and include the appropriate alumni in coaching and/or mentoring positions within the        

        Canadian national pathway.

•      A selection committee that is inclusive of the CRC technical leads.

•      Greater communication between the Rugby Canada rugby department and the Provinces and CRC             

        regions, in particular regarding selection benchmarks and RWC player profiling.

•      A greater investment in talent identification, which is underpinned by a robust, transparent system 

        that identifies players with the physical and technical traits to compete in Rugby World Cups.

•      A strategy to eliminate pay-to-play across all Rugby Canada national team programs, to ensure all

        players with the talent can play for Canada.

World Rugby data showed Canada was a consistent improver across a number of metrics, including – use of possession, points difference, set piece possession and competitiveness across 80 minutes versus Tier 1 nations  (see attached report).  While that did not translate into wins at RWC 2015, it does demonstrate the team and coaching staff played a type of rugby that can and will deliver results given the appropriate environment is provided.

It was also apparent to the committee that there is now a gulf between the Sevens and Fifteens programs. The performance environment and evolution of the sevens game makes it such that players can no longer move between Sevens to Fifteens at short notice and perform. This is not a reflection on the players ability per se, but the fact the Sevens daily training environment conditions players to play a high performance sport that is significantly removed from the fifteens game. World Sevens Series commitments mean players are unable to play sufficient meaningful minutes of fifteens rugby to perform at the level required to win RWC fixtures, or any test match for that matter.

Rugby Canada’s Board of Directors is thankful to Jim Dixon and the committee for the thorough work they did. They are also appreciative of the numerous members, stakeholders and fans that provided much constructive input and feedback following RWC 2015. Across the country and around the Globe there are legions of Canadian supporters who want our Men’s 15s program to succeed.

On an immediate basis and through the forthcoming strategic plan Rugby Canada is committed to fixing the systemic challenges that inhibit our Men’s 15s program ability to succeed.