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Development Boost for Rugby
Thursday, 02 July 2009
The International Rugby Board (IRB) and the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) have joined forces to fund an exciting initiative aimed at increasing the competitiveness of Rugby Sevens in North America.
The four-year coach education program, developed in collaboration with the North America West Indies Rugby Association (NAWIRA), will further boost the level of Rugby Sevens in two of the six Commonwealth Regions in the build up to the Delhi 2010 and Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Canada and the USA have traditionally dominated competitions between countries in NAWIRA, but with Sevens increasingly gaining ground in new markets around the world, many non-traditional Rugby nations are focusing on developing the high-octane, crowd-pulling form of the Game.
Nations such as Trinidad & Tobago, the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands have lately been further encouraged, with Rugby Sevens’ inclusion in the Pan American Games and the sport’s campaign for Olympic Games re-inclusion, to make their mark in a sport which bases much of its appeal on its genuine competitiveness between nations from around the world.
“This is a very exciting period for Rugby Sevens with many of our Unions investing in dedicated Sevens development programs,” said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
“This initiative with the CGF is a timely boost for Rugby as we look ahead to another exciting Commonwealth Games in Delhi next year and the outcome of our Olympic Campaign.”
“The IRB invests over US$5 annually in NAWIRA Member Unions through individual Union development and High performance grants, Regional tournament support and administration grants.
“However, we believe that a specific need exists to boost competitiveness in Sevens and the new tailored Rugby Sevens Coach Education Programme is designed to contribute to achieving that aim.
“In the longer term, we hope to see more teams from these two Commonwealth Regions in a better position to compete and challenge for medals in future Commonwealth Games,” added Lapasset.
NAWIRA Commonwealth Members include Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Bahamas, Jamaica, St Vincent and The Grenadines, St Lucia, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, Canada, Bermuda and Guyana.
Rugby Sevens was introduced to the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur 1998 and the final at the Commonwealth Games 2006 in Melbourne was a record crowd for the seven-a-side format with 150,000 attending the three competition days.
Sixteen teams take part in the Commonwealth Games, including the host nation, and Commonwealth Games Federation Chief Executive, Michael Hooper, is delighted that his organisation is fostering the growth of the sport.
“The CGF has signed up to this initiative to strengthen its relationship with International Sports Federations and support a number of targeted regional development programs in the build up to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014,” Hooper said.
“We started by investing in the development of Netball in Africa with the International Federation of Netball Associations and UK Sport in 2008 and are very pleased that our discussions with the IRB and NAWIRA have now resulted in another tangible programme.”
“We believe that such a programme will help to enhance the quality of the Rugby Sevens competition in 2014 and support our mission to assist in the development of sport throughout the Commonwealth.”
The coaching programme will begin in 2010 with a three-day training course that will be available to all NAWIRA Commonwealth Member National Coaches.
This will be followed by a series of courses in 2011 targeted to member countries whose performances indicate that they have the potential to qualify for future Commonwealth Games.
An additional ‘open course’ is planned for 2012 and in 2013, member coaches that were not targeted in 2011 will receive further education and mentoring in their country.