CRC U19 Tournament Wraps Up

Story submitted by Rugby Canada. Photos courtesy of Bob Shaw.

The Under-19 Canadian Rugby Championship tournament is an excellent chance for the young rugby players of this country to strut their stuff.
This tournament allows the players to battle at a competitive level and face off against some of the best Canadian players in their age group. But make no mistake – the cost, coordination and time spent is for the good of the country and the good of the sport.
Rugby is still expanding in Canada. Though its popularity is on the rise, the sport still lacks the exposure and attention given to the other major sports.
Coach Andy Plimer from the newly-formed Lower Canada Voyageurs sees this tournament as an important stepping stone for the nation’s fifth national region made up of Rugby Quebec and the Eastern Ontario Rugby Union.
“The players feel that they are being valued and that they are being viewed as elite players in the region. It is also a good step forward for the coaches – the collaborative process to build the team.”
As great as this opportunity is for the players and the national regions, the focus of the tournament is the formation of the 2012 national U-20 team and the future of Canada in this sport.
National U-20 Men/Academy Coach Mike Shelley and the coaching staffs of the Atlantic Rock, the Prairie Wolf Pack, the Ontario Blues and the Voyageurs must now decide how to proceed after the tournament.
Identifying potential players and narrowing the focus of the team are the easy parts. But a great deal of work has to be done in the coming months to prepare these young men to represent their country.
The vision of the team has to be fulfilled by the players assembled in Montreal. The needs of the team have been identified; this tournament provides Shelley with the opportunity to see how these pieces can fit into his puzzle.
Each of the teams representing the country’s national regions develops their players at different paces and in different ways. This tournament produces a unique opportunity for the coaches to sit down together and target what their teams need and exchange strategies to get those results.
The Ontario Blues’s technical director, Andrew Hall likes the idea of the U-19 CRC and has high hopes for its future. “Players need to play higher level competitions. This has the potential to become a premier level tournament for male rugby outside of the men’s CRC.”
The teams’ coaches gathered to brainstorm the future of the tournament and analyze the benefits of continuing the event. The teamwork and dedication shown by those assembled highlights the focus of the tournament and the importance of assembling the best U-20 squad for next year.
May 2012 is fast approaching. Without the U-19 CRC tournament, the coming months of work would be a great deal more difficult. The games have shown Shelley the players he needs and the coaches have made significant strides in their player development.
The challenge now is to continue the tournament and expand on its success – both in terms of being a viable selection tool and in addressing the needs of the teams in the competition.

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