Canada recommits to Rugby development
Canada is perfectly positioned to reap the benefits of Rugby Sevens’ inclusion in the 2016 Olympic Games thanks to the strong partnership between the Canadian Olympic Committee, Sport Canada, Own the Podium and Rugby Canada.
With a little over four years to go until the finest men's and women's Sevens players compete on the world's greatest sporting stage, the foundations are firmly in place to deliver competitive teams for the qualification process and ensure that rugby continues its strong growth across Canada.
Rugby is booming in Canada. There are now in excess of 80,000 athletes, spanning from youth to adult, playing the sport across the country and with Olympic inclusion inspiring a new generation of athletes, Canada's men's and women's Sevens and 15s programmes continue to impress on the world stage.
The Canadian men's 15s team enjoyed a solid Rugby World Cup 2011 campaign, defeating Tonga and pushing runners-up France close. The men's Sevens team now has coveted core status on the prestigious HSBC Sevens World Series, while the women's Sevens team is ranked amongst the best in the world, winning the inaugural IRB Women's Sevens Challenge Cup event in Dubai last November and more recently striking gold in Amsterdam.
"We are delighted with and committed to our partnership with Rugby Canada. Rugby is a dynamic and inclusive team sport that embodies the Olympic values of respect, team work and fair play," said CEO of Own the Podium, Anne Merklinger, speaking at a special Canadian Olympic Committee event at Sport Accord in Quebec.
"We are working in collaboration with all stakeholders to jointly foster the game and ensure that our teams are in the best-possible position to qualify for and be highly-competitive on the world's greatest sporting stage."
Pat Aldous, Chairman of the Board of Directors for Rugby Canada, added: "These are exciting times for Rugby in Canada. We have more than 80,000 men, women and children actively participating in the game and interest and profile is certainly on a high.
"Olympic inclusion has boosted interest, profile and participation in both Sevens and 15s. Our men's and women's teams continue to do Canada proud on the world stage and we are very excited about Rugby Sevens Olympic Games debut in 2016."
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said that Olympic inclusion is benefitting national federations around the world.
"We are already seeing the enormous benefit of Olympic Games inclusion for our national federations and I am delighted that there is such a strong bond between Rugby Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee to foster the game in Canada and deliver strong national teams in Sevens and 15s."