Rugby Ontario Announces 2023 Provincial Programming
March 8th, 2023
(WHITBY, ON) - Rugby Ontario is pleased to announce the slate of provincial programs for the 2023 season. The Ontario Blues programs will return in 2023 providing age grade and senior Ontario athletes with opportunities to be selected to represent the province. After three years of disruption to national and regional competitions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rugby Ontario has taken steps to structure programs that will support the club community in Ontario and provide meaningful development for aspiring athletes and coaches through provincial and regional programming.
The provincial programming planned for 2023 will involve some adjustments to specific program structures. This is reflective of the work that has been undertaken by Rugby Ontario to engage with high performance, club and grassroots stakeholders over the past five months. Rugby Ontario has worked diligently to minimize as much conflict with club competition, while still providing a quality opportunity for these athletes to further develop their skills with the best of their age grade. For more on this effort, Rugby Ontario High Performance Committee Chair and Board Member, Marius Felix, has prepared an open letter regarding the provincial programs and the short and long-term objectives of the high performance mandate.
The following is a summary of the provincial programming for 2023. Further details regarding each program will be announced in the near future.
Ontario Blues – Girls’ Programs
Rugby Ontario has worked diligently on the following Ontario Blues girl’s and women’s programming as recommended by the High Performance Committee. We are excited to announce the addition of the U19 Women’s Provincial Program. This program will engage the top 25 athletes across the province providing these athletes the opportunity to compete in the first-ever Women’s U19 Canadian Rugby Championship in British Columbia at the end of July. This program will help feed the Canada U20 program by providing athletes the chance to compete at a national event and be evaluated by national age grade coaches. In addition to the U19 program, Rugby Ontario will be implementing programs at the U16, U17 and U18 Girls age grades:
- U16 Girls will be a four-region development structure until early July (one team per region made up of 25 athletes), which will support selection after July 2 of the top 25 athletes across the province to compete as a full provincial team at a Western Canada competition in Alberta at the end of July.
- U17 Girls will consist of two regional development teams engaging the top 50 athletes in this age group across the province. The province will be split between East and West teams, which will compete at an Eastern Canadian Championship at the end of July in Atlantic Canada. Training sessions will be spread out across each regional group to support more equitable travel. Both teams will compete at the competition in Atlantic Canada with final team selection to occur after July 2.
- U18 Girls will consist of one provincial team engaging the top 25 athletes in this age group. Training sessions will be spread out across the province to support more equitable travel. These athletes will compete at a Western Canada competition in Alberta at the end of July, with final selection to occur after July 2.
- U19 Women will represent the province with the top 25 athletes in this age group at the U19 Canadian Rugby Championship in British Columbia at the end of July, with final selections to occur after July 2. Training sessions will be spread out across the province to support more equitable travel.
- Ontario-based athletes identified for provincial age grade programs but selected for national teams will be supported and encouraged to pursue the opportunity to represent Canada, and not expected to compete for the provincial teams in 2023.
Rugby Ontario is casting a wide net at the entry level for U16 athletes and refining as they develop and move through the provincial system in future years. This model will support future Canada U18 and U20 programs by creating a funnel effect identifying 100 U16 athletes for representative rugby, refining to the top 50 when the athletes reach U17 and then graduating the top 25 to U18 and U19.
*Please note, the dates are currently tentative and may be subject to change*
Ontario Blues – Boys’ Programs
The Ontario Blues boy’s and men’s programs will return in 2023 with a new structure to support athlete development through provincial programs at U18 and U19 levels. The program will consist of one U18 provincial program which will identify the top 25 athletes in this age group. This group will compete at a Western Canada competition in Alberta at the end of July, with final selection to occur after July 2. Rugby Ontario will run one U19 provincial program that will compete at the U19 Canadian Rugby Championship in British Columbia at the end of July. Training sessions will be spread out regionally to support more equitable travel among both age groups. This model will help support the national age grade U18 and U20 programs. Athletes in the U16 and U17 age grades will have the opportunity to compete in regional interbranch competition providing athletes the opportunity to prepare for provincial programming at the U18 and U19 levels in future years. The regional interbranch model will be facilitated by the branches (EORU, TRU, NRU, SWRU), and more information on the interbranch competition will be communicated in the coming months. Ontario-based athletes identified for provincial age grade programs but selected for national teams will be supported and encouraged to pursue the opportunity to represent Canada, and not expected to compete for the provincial teams in 2023.
*Please note, the dates are currently tentative and may be subject to change*
Senior Women’s Provincial Program
This year Rugby Ontario will be piloting an inter-provincial league between Ontario and Quebec in a four-game series to aid in the talent identification for the National Senior Women’s XV Team (NSWT). The purpose of this is to provide an opportunity for Ontario’s senior athletes to be identified by the NSWT coaching staff and have the possibility of being selected for the Pacific 4 Tournament this summer and future NSWT programs. The Senior Women’s program will be divided up between East and West regions, minimizing travel barriers as much as possible. This competition structure allows the senior women to fully participate in summer club programming, while still being able to compete with and against the best in the province and enhance their development.
Provincial Head Coach Recruitment – Call for Interest & Instructions to Apply
As a result of changes to the structure for all provincial programs for 2023, Rugby Ontario is taking the opportunity to conduct an open recruitment effort for the volunteer Provincial Head Coach positions. We are seeking interest from currently / formerly engaged provincial and high performance coaches, as well as providing other interested coaches the opportunity to be considered for these positions.
The Provincial Head Coach Job Description is available here. Rugby Ontario encourages all interested and qualified coaches to apply for the position and team they are interested in by submitting their application at the following link:
For any inquiries about the provincial programs, please contact Amanda Andres, Coordinator, Provincial & High Performance Programs at firstname.lastname@example.org
Junior Club Competitions
As part of the coordination with Rugby Ontario staff, the High Performance Committee and Grassroots & Club Development Committee, the junior club competition schedule has been developed to deliver minimal conflict with provincial programs, while allowing additional game days to be worked into the schedule. These additional game days will allow for increased flexibility for competition structures within each age band and address travel implications for many clubs.
Regional leagues will compete throughout the summer months, similar to 2022, with qualifying teams making it to Junior Cup Day on August 20th, 2023. In 2023, Rugby Ontario is looking into a new initiative of having regional U18 Girls and Boys Club Showcases early in the season with multiple league games taking place on a single day at the same location. The objective is to provide a platform for talent identification within the club league structures, while creating an exciting day of rugby where some of the best young talent can compete together. Be on the lookout for more information about the U18 Club Showcases in the coming months.
Rugby Ontario has recently sent out information to all clubs regarding the junior club dates. If your club hasn’t received this information, please contact Rugby Ontario’s Competitions staff:
Please be sure to check out Rugby Ontario’s website regularly for updates on season scheduling and program updates.
ABOUT RUGBY ONTARIO
Rugby Ontario is the provincial sports governing body responsible for the organization of rugby in Ontario. Our mission is to lead, support and promote Rugby for All from communities to clubs to province. This mission signals a movement toward creating a more cohesive, supportive and progressive sporting environment that is responsive to the needs of all members.
To learn more, visit https://www.rugbyontario.com/
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