Rugby Canada is packing its bags.
In preparation of moving in that is, into their new two-storey, 6,000-square-foot facility adjacent to the grandstands of the Bear Mountain Stadium in Langford. Now in the final stages of development the Canadian Rugby Centre of Excellence is expected to open in time to welcome a new year and a new team to the West Shore.
“It is a professional atmosphere,” said Rugby Canada’s high-performance manager Les Gilson on their new home. “Everyone is pleased with the facility and looking forward to the rest of it opening it up.”
The move kicks off a busy January coinciding with the staggered arrival of 22-24 national women’s players and 30-40 men to Vancouver Island from across the country along with a compliment of 19 staff members making their way from around Greater Victoria to the new centralized abode that houses the offices of Rugby Canada and storage for the Highlanders soccer and Rebels football.
“One of the big advantages is we will be all together, the administration, the medical, the strength and conditioning, and rugby will be housed at City Centre Park,” Gilson said. “It will be exciting for us to be in the same facility bringing us all together.”
New technology also bridges the facilities together with fiber-optic cables connecting the Eagle Ridge sportsplex, the stadium, the rugby building and Goudy field so Rugby Canada can watch and film field activity in real time.
With the amalgamation of players and facilities almost complete, he is already looking forward to a compliment of international competitions taking place here starting with two under-20 games against Uruguay and Romania along with an invitational event with the top Canadian university teams across the country making their way to Bear Mountain stadium in March to compete as a talent evaluation of sorts for the best up-and-coming rugby talent in the country in preparation for Rugby’s first entry as an Olympic sport in 2016.
“You saw what happened in Vancouver (2010), We had an Olympic movement in Canada,” Gilson said. “It is positive for rugby to be part of the Olympics, we hope to ride that momentum from Vancouver to allow rugby to become one of the mainstream sports.”
With the popularity of the sport on the rise, director of rugby Trevor Arnold looks forward to working and growing with a city that has welcomed them with open arms.
“Langford has adopted us and given us a high-profile facility and we hope to supply something in the way to (the City) in return,” Arnold said. “Rugby Canada, from the board, to staff and players are looking forward to what is going to happen in the new year and we see it as a positive for us and a positive for Langford. Our intention is to bring the best together.”