Christmas came on the last day of July for Rugby Canada.
The Langford-based organization’s CEO, Graham Brown, called last week’s announcement of federal and municipal sports infrastructure funding a “game changer” that will take the sport to a whole new level.
On Friday at the Rugby Canada headquarters beside the program’s home turf at Westhills Stadium, Vancouver Island North MP John Duncan announced that the federal government will contribute up to $3 million for upgrades and new facilities for the Canadian Rugby Centre of Excellence High Performance Training Centre.
“It’s unbelievable from the players’ perspective,” Brown said of the planned upgrades. “It makes the program legitimately professional. Having everything the players need in one location in Langford is just unbelievable.”
The federal funding, combined with $2.5 million from the City of Langford and about $900,000 from Rugby Canada, clears the way for completion of a 19,000-square-foot, two-storey building that will include a 7,000-sq.-ft. gymnasium, change rooms with shower and bathroom facilities, a kitchen, dining and lounge area and recovery and stretching rooms that include a hydrotherapy pool.
The facility will also contain six one-bedroom studio apartments, a therapy clinic, reception area and a Rugby Canada Hall of Fame.
A smaller facility had been in the works for some time and this money allows the organization to create a much more complete, centralized facility.
Duncan said he believes the new facilities will put Rugby Canada in a position to move up in the rankings, which bodes well with the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro looming. “You couldn’t ask for a better location than Langford,” he added. “It’s family friendly and has great weather. I’m sure the teams will draw residents and visitors for years to come.”
Langford Mayor Stew Young echoed Brown’s view that the new facilities will take Rugby Canada to the next level.
“It will improve Rugby Canada’s position on the world stage,” Young said. “We’re very fortunate the federal government recognized the opportunity and stepped up here in Langford.”