Friday, March 30, 2007

Al Charron: Canadian club rugby and band-aids

May 4, 2006

Al Charron has his latest letter online at Rugby Canada. This week Al talks about the quality of club rugby in Canada and where the game is headed in the Great White North, lamenting that "the club level has dropped off a touch not only in Ottawa but all over Ontario since the reconfiguration of the leagues. "

"I may well be wrong and it is probably unfair for me to state that given the fact I don’t see nearly the amount of games I used to, but it is the impression I get. The whispers I hear about the overall calibre of play at the club is the level being on the decline, not only in Ontario but nationwide. There are obviously exceptions to my broad generalization of poor club play in this country; one would hope that in time the proliferation of excellent club rugby will be the rule and not the exception."

"Again to repeat what I have written in the past but more appropriately what so many good hard working rugby people have pleaded for many a year - they need help to make rugby work in this country.

"We need to incorporate their ideas and suggestions to come to a feasible working model to support the smooth running of clubs, but more importantly to fund mini rugby and various youth rugby programs all incorporated under the club umbrella. They are the future and the untapped potential of rugby properly prospering in Canada in the years to come. We need to target the players of tomorrow at a young age like other countries do and other sports in this country efficiently do.

"Rugby Canada must have some say in how the much ballyhooed IRB money is spent. Can we not make them understand the problems we face in trying to make this game flourish when sometimes a kid’s first touch of a rugby ball is not until they are in their teens?

"There is no question our national programs need funding and we need competitions like the Super League and the North American Four but before we apply the band-aid, perhaps we should ‘dress’ (address) the wound properly?

"Club rugby is the lifeblood of rugby that helps players develop and perhaps contend for higher honours, be it Super League, provincial, NA4 or Canada. At the very least, club rugby is the open doorway for overall participation of the general public in rugby.

"It would best serve our sport that the club and league structures are run so effectively and professionally that it is attractive enough to be a doorway one would continue to want to pass through time and time again, rather than one shutting the door on it with a definitive slam.

"Making the club structure organized and stronger, while hopefully increasing the skill, pace and intensity of league play will obviously have nothing but an upside for the game in general. It certainly will have our national players not making such a sizeable jump when playing international rugby as is the case right now.


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