Rugby Canada and the City of Langford revealed Thursday the details of a 10-year partnership in a multi-million dollar rugby complex that will see Langford, a Vancouver Island suburb of Victoria, play home to the Canadian Rugby Centre of Excellence.
The Canadian Rugby Centre of Excellence will be built on the site of the existing City Centre Park.
City Centre Park, created in 2005, is a $25-million facility that currently features two modern, state-of-the-art flood-lit stadium/training turf fields and seating for 2,500 and 1,500 seats respectively, with the ability to add additional seating, along with additional dry-land training and community activity sport center.
Overlooking Langford, at a press conference atop Bear Mountain, Mayor Stuart Young, Rugby Canada Chairman Rick Bourne and Rugby Canada CEO Graham Brown provided stakeholders from the rugby and business communities complete details for the training center that Canada's national men's and women's 15s and sevens rugby teams will now call home.
“I hope this is something our players can build on,” Brown said. “There is a connection between how I believe rugby operates and how I believe your community operates. Now we have an opportunity to consolidate everybody’s actions and everybody’s passions and visions for the sport.”
Langford Mayor Young shared Brown’s excitement of the possibilities for the future partnership between the city and Rugby Canada.
“This is one of the biggest things we’ve announced,” Mayor Young said. “It’s great to announce this on the heels of our City Centre Park, the timing is really good. Langford residents will be treated to world class rugby and that’s what we’re excited about.”
Plans to enhance the existing facilities and infrastructure at City Centre Park are already well under way. Ground was broken in July on the 4,500-plus square-foot administrative offices and storage facility that will overlook the current 2,800-seat stadium field.
A world-class strength and conditioning center, as well as medical facility is currently being renovated and equipped. A purpose-built 4,000+ square-foot scrummaging area is being constructed with state-of-the-art equipment and video capabilities.
Work is scheduled to be completed shortly after the return of Canada’s Rugby World Cup squad from New Zealand in October. Phase 2 will include a residence capable of hosting 70 athletes, adjacent to the Canadian Rugby Centre of Excellence.
Construction of the residence is to begin January 2013 and will provide Canada’s national rugby players with top level accommodations in a four-story residence being built by Westhills Developments in the center of town.
Speaking at the press conference, Brown said the facility was a positive step for the future of Rugby Canada.
“The move to a permanent, world class facility is yet another move forward for our organization. With current partners Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence (PISE), Canada Sport Centre Pacific – Victoria and Shawnigan Lake School, Canadian rugby is positioned to offer our athletes a world class environment with which to train to compete. This new partnership will see the integration of PISE and SLS into the framework of the Canadian Rugby Centre of Excellence through the continued use of facilities as satellite training locations.”
Construction and renovations associated with this project include a high-performance training center (strength and conditioning), custom medical clinic, a custom built high tech scrum training zone, 3,000 square-foot high performance office as well as 3,000 square-feet of equipment storage and laundry facilities. Phase 2 construction will be completed by November 15, 2011.
"Now that Rugby Sevens is an Olympic Sport (for the 2016 games in Rio), and with the heightened competition amongst the Top 20 nations in world rugby, the need to increase our levels of training both qualitatively and quantitatively make this move imperative to getting ready for the Rio Games," Brown said. "This announcement underscores the huge strides the sport has taken in recent years, both in Canada and world-wide."
In attendance at the event were current players and coaches of Canada's Rugby World Cup men's team, which is departing in two days time for Australia and then New Zealand for the seventh Rugby World Cup.
Canada’s national senior men’s coach Kieran Crowley said he was pleased with the way the community of Langford had embraced rugby.
“The way the community got behind it is massive,” Crowley said. “The different things they’re providing are great. We’re building and what Langford provided is outstanding.”
Canada’s Rugby World Cup captain Pat Riordan said he hoped the facility would help further Rugby Canada’s identity in the country’s diverse sports landscape.
“It’s a huge step forward for rugby when we see communities wanting to attract us as a sport,” Riordan said. “Langford is a progressive city and a sports community is a great identity for them. From the players’ perspective it’s great, it sounds like it will be well tailored to us.”