Rugby Canada has announced Own the Podium (OTP) funding aimed at boosting efforts to medal at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
"The introduction of rugby Sevens presents another medal opportunity for Canada at the Olympic Summer Games," said Mark Hahto, OTP’s director of summer sport.
"These necessary funds mark a first major step for Own the Podium and Rugby Canada, as we work together to develop a high-performance program that will provide more Canadian athletes the opportunity to contend for the international podium. The road to Rio promises to be an exciting road, and we look forward to playing a major role in rugby's Olympic debut in 2016."
OTP has committed significant funding to assist both the Canadian Men’s and Women’s Sevens Programs. This is the first time Rugby Canada’s Men’s Program has received OTP funding; Canada’s Women’s Program was funded last year. Canada’s Women’s Program enjoyed an undefeated 2011 season and a top three global ranking. This new round of OTP funding runs from April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014.
OTP funding will provide support in the following critical areas: coaches and technical leaders, International competition and training camp schedule, daily training environment at the Canadian Rugby Center of Excellence (COE), sport medicine and sport science staff in the daily training environment and in competition
“Our ability to train and develop at a world-class level will help us continue to improve our competitiveness and program depth,” Canadian men’s captain Nanyak Dala said.
Over the past two years, Canada’s men’s sides have defeated every Top 16 ranked country in the world, with the exception of New Zealand and England.
“This is a massive boost to our program and helps us to keep pace with the rest of the world who are putting significant resources into this new Olympic sport,” Geraint John, Head Coach of the Men’s Sevens team, said.
Jen Kish, Captain of the Canadian Women’s Sevens said, “OTP funding has improved the quality of our training and has helped to strengthen our athletes and teams. The effects of the funding were felt immediately last year.”
Women’s Sevens Head Coach John Tait noted, “OTP’s recognition of Canada’s Olympic rugby potential reaffirms the strength of our program and gives us new resources to advance one of Canada’s fastest growing and most competitive global sports. This money will have an immediate and long-term impact on our on and off field performance”.
“The expansion of our training resources, particularly those targeted at continuing the growth of the Canadian Rugby Center of Excellence (COE), is a big boost to our on-field competitiveness,” Mike Chu, Rugby Canada’s General Manager of Rugby Operations and Performance, said.
“Rugby Canada is receiving OTP support because of well-founded beliefs that our programs are succeeding on and off the field and can win Olympic medals in Rio de Janeiro in 2016,” added Rugby Canada CEO Graham Brown. “The past three years have been particularly successful for Canada’s Rugby programs and communities.”
Exponential growth in rugby player involvement and fan engagement likely correspond to the improvement of Canada’s Men’s and Women’s on-field performance; most recently exemplified by Men’s Sevens victories over world-class Fijian and South African sides in Wellington, where Canada won the Bowl Championship; followed by a strong Canadian showing in Las Vegas where the Men’s Sevens defeated Scotland 22-5 to win a Plate Title and the Women’s Sevens Final featured two Canadian sides going head to head, after defeating the US and Japan.