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Island Academy Staff

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Robin MacDowell

Director of Rugby

 Head Coach

Born and raised in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island, former Rugby Canada International Robin MacDowell is an athlete-centered coach who has been coaching sports at all levels for over 27 years.


Robin grew up playing multiple sports, showing promise in more than one discipline. Robin made the choice to move from the Valley to Europe at 19 years old to pursue a professional rugby career in both France and Italy. After several years, he returned home to attend University, where he played on the University of Victoria varsity team, as well as to realize his dream of representing Rugby Canada on the World Sevens Series, including the 2006 Melbourne, Australia Commonwealth Games. 


As a former international athlete that travelled the world over as both player and coach, Robin has a strong understanding of what it takes to get to the next level and he knows how to help elite athletes achieve success. His true passion lies with helping athletes reach their goals at every level of the game – from grass roots to high performance. 


Robin has been highly successful in coaching various select teams, including: youth, club, provincial, national, and international programs. He has seen many of his players go on to play at the highest level of the sport, attending many international tournaments.


Robin also has vast experience coaching at the international level, most notably the five years he spent with the Mexican Women’s National Sevens team. He coached and lead the team through the 2018 Rugby World Cup 7s in San Francisco, as well as 4 multi-sport games.


For the past 6 years, Robin has worked with the Canadian Men's and Women's 7s pathway programs.

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Program Coordinator

Judy Watson

Judy grew up playing multiple sports in New Brunswick, but her biggest love was rugby.  She then moved to Saskatchewan with her husband Mark who farms and they have 2 children Owen and Molly.  Judy returned to rugby when she convinced her son Owen to join the MacDOWELLRUGBY Academy in Regina, SK which is where both Owen and Molly fell in love with rugby. Judy has managed provincial U14 and U18 girls teams within SK, and was also the MacDOWELLRUGBY Academy coordinator in SK until she decided to move to BC with her son to take on the position of Academy and Homestay Coordinator full time. Judy manages all of the athletes who move from out of town to help them find homestay families for their time in BC. She also plays a vital role in ensuring the academy runs smoothly for day to day operations. 

Traci Hamilton

Teacher Liaison,

Cowichan Secondary School

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Prairie Academy Staff

Brett began playing rugby in his first year of high school and has continued in the sport to this day. He played Sr. Men's rugby in Regina from 2008 - 2015, as well represented Saskatchewan at the U18 and  U20 levels in 2008 and 2009. He had the opportunity to play rugby for the University of Regina while completing a degree in Education. Brett began the transition into coaching while in University, starting at the high school level and progressing to the provincial U18 level. Currently, Brett is also had experience coaching at the University of Regina, as well an assistant coach with the MacDOWELLRUGBY Elite 7s team.

Brett has been our lead prairie academy coach since 2017.

Brett Kannenberg

Prairie Academy Head Coach

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Nishant Jain

Business and Operations Strategist

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Chrissa Tromp

Project Coordinator

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Patrick McNary

Administration/Financial Consultant 

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Maxine O'Leary

Marketing & Communications


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Avi comes from a strong rugby background being a three time National Champion with BC Rugby, having played varsity rugby for the Uvic Vikes, and combined with excellent education and experience working with high performance athletes. Avi graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and a minor in Psychology, additionally, she has worked for 4 years as a strength and conditioning coach with developmental, varsity and professional athletes. "I am excited to join the MacDOWELLRUGBY Island Academy team and help create dominant athletes". 

Avi Sharibi

Strength & Conditioning Coach


Join the MacDOWELLRUGBY Team

If you are interested in joining the MacDOWELLRUGBY team and are someone who DREAMS big, BELIEVES in themselves, and wants to SUCCEED in both rugby and in life, please visit our JOIN THE TEAM page to view current opportunities.

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