Inaugural year of RO's HP Academy wrapping up with final combine

April 05, 2018


Inaugural year of Rugby Ontario's High Performance Academy wrapping up with final combines

(WHITBY, ON) - On Saturday March 24, Rugby Ontario held its sixth and final core skill session as part of our High-Performance Academy. The High-Performance Academy or “The Program” is an inaugural initiative designed by Rugby Ontario’s High-Performance Manager, Paul Connelly, in collaboration with Head Strength and Conditioning Coaches, Sean Harrison and Jeff Watson of Elite Training Systems (ETS). The goal of the program is to drive the development of our provincial athletes and establish touchpoints for accountability and measured growth throughout the offseason. Since kick-starting the Academy in November with Combine #1, The Program has grown to 180 registered athletes ranging from Under-14 to Under-19 male and female athletes.

Combine #1 was utilized to establish a baseline for all athletes. Working with ETS, our athletes then began an eight-week training cycle designed to improve their functional movement and mobility. During this eight-week period, athletes also engaged in multiple skill sessions held at the Whitby Dome. These sessions were focused on developing and enhancing our athletes’ core skills (i.e. run/catch/pass, tackle, ball out of contact). Working with our staff of thirty provincial coaches, athletes were able to train in small groups to build these skills and integrate them into game situations.

In addition to our core skill sessions, athletes have also engaged in speciality skill sessions held during our combines. While our backs completed testing, our group of forwards worked to develop their lineout skills and running lines with guest coaches such as:

  • Chris Silverthorn (Head coach of Ontario Arrows, 5x MacTier Cup winning coach)
  • Aaron Carpenter (Most capped player in Canadian Rugby history)
  • Cindy Nelles (Current National Team Player)
  • Sara Svoboda (Sr. Blues Women’s Player)
  • Emily Barber (Sr. Blues Women’s Player)

While our forwards worked to complete their testing, our backs worked on core passing skills and running lines with guest coaches including:

  • Paul Connelly (High Performance Manager, Rugby Ontario)
  • Stuart McReynolds (Sr. Women’s Provincial Team Head Coach & Former Professional Player)
  • Tyler Leggatt (Founder of Upright Rugby Academy)
  • Bryan Armstrong (Head Coach, Aurora Barbarians Sr. Men)
  • Ryan Jones (Rugby Development Coordinator, Rugby Ontario)

In a little over twelve weeks since the start of the program, we have already seen positive growth and results from our athletes. Working with ETS to improve mobility while simultaneously increasing size and strength, our athletes have displayed growth and improvement in these key areas. While this growth has been consistent across all of the athletes engaged, some athletes have risen above and made tremendous strides both in their physical testing and skill development. In regard to speed; Braden Bruce, 17 (Peterborough Pagans) shaved 0.31 seconds off of his 40-meter time, while Meredith Sirrs, 18 (Ottawa Irish) knocked 0.45 seconds off her 40-meter time. Looking at relative strength gains, Jared Cresswell, 17 (Ajax Wanderers) added 9 pull ups to his previous best, a feat made even more impressive when considering that he added 11 pounds between tests. Also impressive was Danika Johnston, 14 (Oshawa Vikings), who added 16 push-ups to her personal best. 

Rugby Ontario has been extremely happy with the results of the academy thus far but are committed to enhancing the program even further.  With two weeks remaining in the academy window, we are excited to see the culmination of their hard work and dedication at Combine #3. The Boy’s Combine will be this coming Saturday, April 7 and the Girl’s Combine will wrap things up on Saturday, April 14.

If you have any questions about Rugby Ontario’s High-Performance Program and would like to inquire about the Academy or our 2018 provincial program, please contact our High Performance Coordinator – Sean Medeiros at You can also find out more about the Academy by visiting the Academy page on our website.


Rugby Ontario is the provincial sports governing body responsible for the organization of rugby in Ontario. Our mission is to establish a stronger identity for rugby in Ontario by promoting the sport’s core values and by fostering a culture of inclusiveness and excellence on and off the field of play.

To learn more, visit


Sean Medeiros

High Performance Coordinator - Rugby Ontario

647-560-4790 x 1004