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Friday Feb 23, 2024

Canada Rugby welcomes 10,000 youngsters to rugby festival ahead of Vancouver SVNS

The Vancouver SVNS is due to kick off on Friday 23rd February with the very finest in the sport ready to thrill fans in the revamped competition.

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This is the 10th time in the country’s history that they’ve held the international SVNS, or previous ‘World Series’ event, and Rugby Canada hopes it will help boost interest in the game around the nation.

Despite the immense size of the Great White North, the country holds just under 40 million people, currently boasting only 50,000 registered rugby players. In terms of the priority rugby takes, simply compare this to World Cup holders South Africa who have over 800,000 registered players despite a similar population size. New Zealand boasts a similar case study with 150,000 players registered in a country of just 5 million people.

The challenge for Rugby Canada, and all these emerging rugby nations, is to bring rugby to the forefront of a country that typically engages in other sports.

The way to grow participation in sport is always through the youth, and that’s exactly what Ryan Jones, Canada Rugby Development Manager, and his team are trying to do.

Bringing together children from all around the country to meet in Vancouver on the weekend of the SVNS meet, Rugby Canada has been employing World Rugby’s ‘Try, Play, Stay’ model. Setting up a rugby festival for 10,000 young people, the national rugby governing body has employed professional coaches to give these future stars the chance to have fun and learn the game.

Ryan Jones, Canada Rugby Development Manager, has explained the aim of the project:

“It is a program where we get coaches into schools connected to rugby clubs, and we’re trying to bring those kids from the schools into a festival environment, and then bring them back into a club environment.

“We’re following World Rugby’s try, play, stay model, and the next step in the session coach project is to spread this across Canada.

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“We’re expanding this to 40 rugby clubs across the country this year, so this week we’re going to have 10,000 kids connected to rugby, most of whom have never touched a rugby ball before.”

A school teacher experiencing the event for herself couldn’t believe the impact it has had on the kids, saying:

“To be introduced to a sport like this, a completely different sport is probably a chance in a lifetime. They came to our school and coached our kids, most of them had never even touched a rugby ball in their life.

“After being coached they invited us to this event and so we separated the kids and all these different groups and they’re being coached by all of these international players and they’re super engaged.

“It’s quite amazing to see the level of engagement right now.”

The future is bright for Canadian rugby.

Vancouver SVNS stats

South Africa are the most successful team in Canada with three Cup titles across Vancouver and Edmonton, and have played the most Cup finals with five.

England in 2017 are the only team who have won the Cup title in Vancouver after finishing second in their pool.

Vancouver was the highest try-scoring tournament last season with a combined 474 scored across both men’s and women’s events.

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