Shawnigan has opened a new chapter in its rich rugby tradition.
Wednesday's signing of a Memorandum of Understanding formalized an agreement between Shawnigan and Rugby Canada – an accord that will see national teams training on school fields and connecting with the local community.
Focussed primarily on the Men's and Women's U-20 programs, the partnership will not only bring national-level athletes to Shawnigan fields, it will also provide coaching sessions for schools and clubs in the local community, in addition to the budding Thunder Indigenous Rugby camp hosted by Shawnigan each summer. As well, a Men's U20 test match vs. the USA is planned for June, 2019, with similar fixtures in development for 2020 and 2021.
"We're really happy to formalize this agreement," said Gareth Rees, Rugby Canada's Director of Commercial and Program Relations and member of the IRB Hall of Fame. A veteran of four Rugby World Cups, Rees has himself trained on Shawnigan fields in advance of international competitions, adding "This has been a huge part of our preparations."
Two Shawnigan grads and members of Canada's Senior Men's Team – Djustice Sears-Duru and Dustin Dobravsky – were also on hand for Wednesday's announcement, as Rugby Canada unveiled new U20 jerseys bearing Shawnigan branding on the chest.
Key in Shawnigan's support of Rugby Canada is Lecky House, which was completed in time for Canada's final preparation camp for the 2003 Rugby World Cup. Built thanks to the vision and generosity of John Lecky (’57), the guest boarding facility was created especially to host teams from Rugby Canada, Rowing Canada, and other national programs in hopes of bringing elite athletes to train at Shawnigan.
Shawnigan's partnership with Rugby Canada dates back to the days of Headmaster Derek Hyde-Lay, and is now guaranteed to last to 2021.
During his remarks on Wednesday, Gareth Rees pointed out that this accord marks the first official in-kind donation to Canada's Women's U-20 program. Coincidentally, Shawnigan is celebrating 30 years of co-education, with the school also set to host the Provincial High School Girls Rugby Championships in May.
Shawnigan Lake School is a co-educational boarding school on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. The school is home to nationally-ranked academics, arts and athletics, with 100 per cent of graduates accepted to university.