Officials from Rugby Canada and Shawnigan Lake School signed a memorandum of understanding regarding future collaborations last month. (Arden Gill/Shawnigan Lake School)

Shawnigan, Rugby Canada strengthen partnership

Memorandum of understanding will benefit community, school says

Shawnigan Lake School and Rugby Canada have worked hand-in-hand for decades already, and a memorandum of understanding signed last month will serve to strengthen the partnership.

Directors from Shawnigan and Rugby Canada signed the document on Jan. 16, specifically targeting the national U20 men’s and women’s programs and setting out several goals, including bringing national teams to train at the school.

“We’re really happy to formalize this agreement,” said Gareth Rees, Rugby Canada’s director of commercial and program relations.

The memorandum of understanding runs through August 2021 and does not include any commitment of funds.

The first Canadian inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame, Duncan native Rees played in four Rugby World Cups, and has experience training at Shawnigan to prepare for international competitions.

“This has been a huge part of our preparations,” he commented.

The impact of the agreement will be felt off campus as well, as Rugby Canada has pledged not only to run national training camps at Shawnigan, but also to participate in training sessions for the local community as well as with the Thunder Indigenous Rugby Program. A Men’s U20 test match against the U.S. is also planned for this June, and further events are in the works for 2020 and 2021.

“This partnership is a source of great pride for us,” Shawnigan headmaster Richard Lamont said, noting the school’s developing support of the Canada Sevens tournaments in Vancouver and Langford as evidence of Shawnigan’s commitment to all levels of the Canadian rugby landscape.

In recognition of Shawnigan’s contributions to Rugby Canada, the school logo will appear on the U20 men’s and women’s jerseys. National senior men’s team members and Shawnigan grads Djustice Sears-Duru and Dustin Dobravsky helped showcase the new look during the January ceremony.

“That jersey represents a lot,” Rees said “We don’t take that honour lightly.”

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