Canada’s Keyara Wardley smiles as she shrugs off a tackle by Spain during the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series stop at Starlight Stadium on April 30. Rugby Canada has announced women’s age grade rugby programming is set to return later this year for U18, and next year for U20 and U23. (Black Press Media file photo)

Canada’s Keyara Wardley smiles as she shrugs off a tackle by Spain during the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series stop at Starlight Stadium on April 30. Rugby Canada has announced women’s age grade rugby programming is set to return later this year for U18, and next year for U20 and U23. (Black Press Media file photo)

Women’s age grade rugby returning by 2023: Rugby Canada

U18 programming is set to return later this year while U20, U23 will return in 2023

Rugby Canada has announced the return of Women’s Age Grade national programming and competition, with activity at the U20 and U23 levels set to return in 2023, with U18 programming later this year.

The relaunch comes after the programming was paused due to the pandemic, according to a news release, and the initial focus of the relaunch for this year will be to ensure coaching staff and team managers are in place for the resumption of play next year.

The goal of the U18, U20, and U23 programs are to develop athletes and coaches through a national pathway in a coordinated effort by the sevens and 15s programs by working closely with communities, clubs, schools, universities, and provincial unions, the release said.

READ MORE: Victoria born de Goede captains Canada women’s 15s to beat U.S. 36-5

Rugby Canada said with league and provincial rugby returning to play across the majority of the country, the timing is perfect to relaunch the women’s age grade programs.

“There is no better time to get our age grade programs back in the game,” said Kristy Martin Hale, women’s high performance coordinator at Rugby Canada. “We are very cognizant that we have not had age grade women’s activity since the pandemic began. Along with most club and provincial programs being dormant and leadership transitions internally, Rugby Canada needed the appropriate timing and staff resources to relaunch these important pathway programs.”

The application process is now open for U20 and U18 head coaches, assistant coaches and team managers. These openings have a closing date of June 30 to allow for hiring before a busy summer for clubs and provinces, including the revival of Canada Summer Games, which will include rugby sevens for the first time.

The positions will have a commitment of two years to allow for domestic talent ID over the next six months and preparation for the resuming of performance opportunities and competitions in 2023 and beyond.

“We are looking forward to seeing many clubs and provinces back at full speed for the first time in many years” said Canada’s senior women’s sevens head coach Jack Hanratty. “The Canada Games Sevens competition is one that we are so happy to see finally take off and there is huge excitement at the prospect of having a national stage for inter-provincial activity once again.”

READ MORE: Women’s sevens rugby event shifts from Langford to Vancouver for 2023

READ MORE: Canada tops Spain in HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series’ return to Langford


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