Canada launches national women's league
Rugby Canada
March 20, 2007

Rugby Canada has announced the launch of a National Women's League (NWL) to kick-off in 2007.

"The inauguration of the NWL represents Rugby Canada's efforts to implement its Long-Term Rugby Development strategy and subsequent commitment to both raising the profile of women's rugby domestically and supporting initiatives to grow the women's game towards becoming the top union in women's rugby in the world," commented Eva Havaris, Rugby Canada's Domestic Rugby Development Manager.

As a result, Rugby Canada in partnership with its provincial unions has created a domestic high performance competition for females that would expose a greater number of athletes, coaches, match officials, and administrators in the women's game to an elite sport environment.

"The NWL creates an improved competition structure for elite female rugby players in this country," added Geraint John, Rugby Canada Director of High Performance. "It will further help our high performance team in identifying and developing our female athletes towards the 2009 (Sevens) and 2010 (XVs) IRB Women's World Cups."

Establishment of the NWL further points to a renewed sense of collaboration between the provincial unions, Rugby Canada, and members of the rugby community who have supported and championed this initiative.

"This league is a great opportunity to progress the game, enhance competition and player development opportunities, and adds value to the relationships between provincial and national team development," stated John Coumbe-Lilley, Head Coach for Ontario Senior Women.
The coming together of the provincial unions and Rugby Canada to fully endorse the league was critical to its implementation.

"The NWL really shows the commitment of the provinces across the country for improving the women's game," stated Colette McAuley, member of the Rugby Canada Board of Directors. "Without their support, this league would not exist."

A provincial representative squad from each of nine provinces will participate in the NWL in 2007. The teams have been divided into two divisions - east and west - and will compete in pool play matches from May to August. The league will culminate in a championship final August 18th, to be hosted by the top team from the west division, who will compete against the top team in the east.

If successful, Rugby Canada has plans to expand the league in its second year to account for the successful developmental age-grade national programs, which are comprised of a large pool of up-and-coming, talented young players. It is a move that would allow national team coaches to observe more players throughout the system.

"The NWL is the first step to creating a high level League that will eventually incorporate opportunities to immerse developmental, age-grade programs and athletes in an elite environment as well," concluded Natascha Wesch, Head Coach of Canada's National Women's Sevens Team.

East Division - Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia

West Division - BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba

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