Canada’s rugby sev­ens kicked off the podium

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS -

TORONTO — Rugby Canada is fac­ing a big blow to the wal­let with news that Own The Podium won’t fund the Cana­dian men’s sev­ens pro­gram for the 2017-18 fis­cal year.

The men’s sev­ens team, which has strug­gled on the field in re­cent years, got $850,000 in OTP rec­om­mended fund­ing in 2016-17. Rugby Canada said it is still de­ter­min­ing the im­pact of the fund­ing cuts on the men’s sev­ens pro­gram for the re­main­der of the 2017 sea­son.

“Un­for­tu­nately, our on-field per­for­mance last year with our men’s sev­ens side and our fail­ure to qual­ify for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games has had an im­pact on our abil­ity to ac­cess fi­nan­cial sup­port through the Sum­mer Team Sport Strat­egy,” Rugby Canada CEO Allen Vansen said in a state­ment. “While we are dis­ap­pointed that our men’s sev­ens fund­ing rec­om­mended by OTP has been cut for 2017/18, we have taken steps to im­prove our on-field per­for­mance and to fur­ther de­velop our men’s sev­ens path­way.”

The Cana­dian men cur­rently stand 12th in the World Se­ries stand­ings af­ter four events, al­though they did fin­ish fourth in Welling­ton un­der new coach Damian McGrath. He backs his start­ing seven play­ers against any­one but says the pro­gram is suf­fer­ing from lack of depth.

The team was 13th over­all last sea­son, ninth in 2014-15 and sixth in 201314. Like the women’s sev­ens play­ers, the men are cen­tral­ized in Lang­ford, B.C.

“With six stops re­main­ing on the HSBC World Sev­ens Se­ries we know our men’s sev­ens team are as mo­ti­vated as ever and have shown they can com­pete with the best in the world,” said Vansen. “It is our mis­sion to run a highly com­pet­i­tive, world-class men’s sev­ens pro­gram, as we have done for the past four years, with the ob­jec­tive of qual­i­fy­ing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and com­pet­ing for a medal.”

The fund­ing cut comes just weeks be­fore the Canada Sev­ens, the home stop on the World Se­ries. In its se­cond year on the cir­cuit, the Van­cou­ver event has al­ready be­come a hit, with or­ga­niz­ers re­leas­ing more tick­ets af­ter the orig­i­nal al­lot­ment of 66,000 over the two days at B.C. place Sta­dium sold out.

The Cana­dian women won bronze in Rio and are third in their World Se­ries stand­ings. They are due to re­ceive $1,970,000 for 2017-18 thanks to OTP’s En­hanced Ex­cel­lence fund­ing rec­om­men­da­tions, ac­cord­ing to Rugby Canada.

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