Rugby Canada is excited to announce a new men’s rugby competition for elite Under-20 age rugby players across the country –the Rugby Canada National Junior Championship.
Thirteen teams from Victoria to St. John’s will compete in four regional pools with the winners of each progressing,first to Eastern and Western finals and then a National Championship scheduled to be played in the West at a venue yet to be finalized onAugust 15th in what is sure to be a an exciting east versus west match-up.
The four regions will consist of the Pacific Division (BC only), Prairie Division (AB and SK), Central Division (ON only) and Atlantic Division (NB, NS and NL).
The competition is intended to provide an opportunity for young players to be tested against the best in their age range with a view to being recognised as possible Rugby Canada national Under-20 team players who take place in the annual International Rugby Board’s (IRB) Junior World Championship.
Players and coaches will also benefit from an increased level of information and guidance from high performance initiatives designed to increase player’s strength, conditioning and skills. This is a key component to enabling Canadian players to compete with world leading under 20 players from nations such as New Zealand, Australia, England and so forth.
“It is particularly encouraging that players from all across the country will have this kind of opportunity”said David Burnett, Secretary of the governance body of the championship.
“We do reasonably well in maintaining a position in the top half of the IRB competition, but if we are to compete with players at Under-20 who are fully professional playing for some of the top teams in the world, we need this type of program to help us maintain and improve our status, not only at this level but eventually in future full senior men’s international teams”.
With Rugby Canada’s focus on regional developmentas part of the High Performance Pathway, this new structure is imperative to establish a solid foundation for Canada’s youthful talent.
“The National Junior Championship competition is viewed by Rugby Canada as an integral component of the High Performance Pathway. In the past the leap from club rugby to national teams including aged base national teams has not always been successful.
"This competition is an attempt to offer higher level challenges. It is hoped that this competition will assist in preparing our national squads by delivering programs at a level above club competition for those who aspire for representative honours,” said Trevor Arnold, Rugby Canada Director of Rugby.
The first games of the season take place over the Victoria Day weekend with Ottawa Harlequins facing Toronto Rebellion on Saturday, May 16 in Toronto and Calgary Mavericks versus Edmonton Gold in Edmonton on Sunday, May 17. A full schedule is available on the website www.rcu20.ca.
Other teams arebased in Victoria, Vancouver, Fraser Valley, North Saskatchewan(Lloydminster / Saskatoon), Regina, Niagara, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland. It is expected at least 3 more teams will join the competition in 2010. More information on local teams can be found through local provincial and branch unions.