The University of the Fraser Valley athletic department is pleased to announce the formation of a women’s rugby sevens club program to participate in a pilot project led by Canada West, B2Ten and Rugby Canada.
Beginning in January 2017, the Canada West Women’s Rugby Sevens Series will provide Canadian female student-athletes the opportunity to pursue the game of rugby sevens, while studying in Canada.
The project, which will include joint funding from B2Ten and Rugby Canada, will see the creation of a three-tournament rugby sevens series involving six Canada West institutions – the University of the Fraser Valley, University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, University of Lethbridge, and University of Victoria.
“UFV is excited to join five other Canada West schools competing in women’s rugby sevens,” said Steve Tuckwood, UFV director of athletics and campus recreation. “If the Rio Olympics were any indication, Canadian sports fans are getting on board with rugby sevens, and the Fraser Valley is a hotbed for women’s rugby.”
Coming off Canada’s women’s rugby sevens bronze at the Rio Olympics, B2Ten and Rugby Canada are committed to producing the next generation of Olympians by growing the game at Western Canadian universities that share their collective goal of developing high performance rugby programs here in Canada.
The three-year pilot project is part of B2Ten’s ongoing mandate to help in the development of elite Canadian athletes and promotion of sport and active lifestyle in creating a healthy and dynamic society.
“This initiative builds a pathway to the sevens national team while offering student-athletes the opportunity to pursue their university studies in Canada,” said B2ten’s Dominick Gauthier. “We are pleased to join Rugby Canada, the participating universities and Canada West in support of women’s rugby sevens, a sport we believe Canada is well suited to challenge for gold in at the Olympic Games.”
Through their joint support, which will include scholarship opportunities for players at all six competing institutions, B2Ten and Rugby Canada are committed to helping Canadian female athletes pursue their athletic careers, including an opportunity to progress to the national team.
“The launch of the Canada West Women’s Rugby Sevens Series is a fantastic initiative that will see tremendous growth of female sevens players,” said Rugby Canada CEO Allen Vansen. “The competition will provide a new pathway to our national sevens programs and will act as a great development tool for players.”
Jen Ross will serve as head coach of the Cascades club. Ross is a former Canadian national team player who participated in the 1994 Women’s Rugby World Cup in Scotland, and has gone on to become a highly accomplished coach. She was Rugby Canada’s 2012 national female coach of the year, and has also earned awards from the B.C. Rugby Union, Sport BC, and the BC Games Society. Jen has coached at the high school (Robert Bateman Secondary), club (Abbotsford RFC), regional (Fraser Valley rep) and provincial (B.C. rep) levels, often all in the same year. She also serves as an assistant coach for the B.C. Elite girls sevens program (U16 and U18 age groups).
“We’re very pleased to have a coach of Jen Ross’s calibre and profile to lead our new club,” Tuckwood said.
Ross has already begun putting together the Cascades’ roster, and athletes interested in participating should contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Canada West Women’s Rugby Seven Series opens Jan. 21-22 in Edmonton, Alta. as the University of Alberta hosts the inaugural event, followed by tournaments at the University of Victoria (Feb. 4-5) and University of British Columbia (Feb. 18-19). The winner of the series will be crowned following the final tournament of the series, as determined by cumulative series points.
– with files from Evan Daum, Canada West