MacDowellRugby 2017 Year in Review
2017 marked an exciting year for MacDowellRugby. In recognition of MacDowellRugby's first year, we would like to share some highlights from 2017, before ringing in the new year!
MacDowellRugby Academy Kicks Off
MacDowellRugby launched the MacDowellRugby Academy, coaching over 30 athletes from across Saskatchewan over a period of 8 weeks.
The Academy coaching staff, led by Robin MacDowell, is comprised of University of Regina Cougars athletes, as well as various club players from around Regina.
The Academy was also fortunate to have a guest join one of the sessions: CFL Roughrider and recent international Rugby 7s convert, Tevaughn Campbell. Tevaughn had recently returned from the Singapore 7s, where the Canadian national men's team pulled off a historic gold medal victory.
Lucky for us and the athletes, he was kind enough to pose with his gold medal with everyone!
MacDowellRugby Elite VII First Tournament Win
MacDowellRugby Elite VII after winning the Ryback 7s championship in over-time (from L to R: Nishant Jain, Robin MacDowell, Eamon Milligan, Mitchell Novak, Billy Howden, PJ Mancao, Mike Clarke, Marcus Hall, Dylan Turner, Dustin Nedohin, Mark Roney, Brayden Firth, Demitri Hofer, Jaskaran Singh, Brett Kannenberg)
The MacDowellRugby Elite VII team entered into their first 7s tournament at the Regina Ryback 7s, going undefeated the entire tournament. The team was a young group of some of the best university, club, and even high school players in Regina, averaging roughly 22 years of age. Below is the team roster and staff:
Eamon Milligan (18 years old)
Marcus Hall (21 years old)
Jaskaran Singh (19 years old)
Billy Howden (20 years old)
Mike Clarke (C) (23 years old)
Mark Roney (27 years old)
Dustin Nedohin (22 years old)
PJ Mancao (18 years old)
Brayden Firth (23 years old)
Demitry Hofer (26 years old)
Mitchell Novak (18 years old)
Dylan Turner (23 years old)
Head Coach: Robin MacDowell
Assistant Coach: Brett Kannenberg
Manager: Nishant Jain
MacDowellRugby Find Continued Success in Alberta
Edmonton Rugby Fest victors, MacDowellRugby Elite VII. Composed of players from Saskatchewan, Ontario, British Columbia, and even Mexico.
The MacDowellRugby Elite VII found further success by once again going undefeated at the Edmonton Rugby Fest tournament in Edmonton, AB. The team was composed of highly talented players from across Canada as well as Mexico national team player, Gonzalo "Meno" Fleitas. The team was very fortunate have the expertise of Canadian legend and captain for the Canadian Rugby World Cup team of 1991, Mark Wyatt. Mark had this to say about his experience working with MacDowellRugby:
"After receiving an invitation from Robin to assist with a MacDowellRugby Elite team taking part in the Edmonton Rugby Fest, I accepted and packed my bag. Along with his committed and capable entourage of Brettski and Nish, they pulled together a collection of players from Saskatchewan, Ontario, BC, Mexico (yeah, Meno) and Williams Lake (Nathan, not sure if the rest of the province has acknowledged your hometown).
Arriving mid-afternoon Friday, May 19th I waited for Robin at the hotel. Once he checked in I hopped in his van that was full of Sask boys who had left at 5:30am from Regina – yikes. When we arrived at the field I soon discovered that the BC guys had driven overnight to arrive in Edmonton a few hours before the first game. Due to my advanced years, that was out of the question and the 2 hour flight from Victoria was just right!
Shaking off travel legs, the boys cruised to their first victory and it was clear this was a talented group who would gel after a couple of games. Dinner followed and it was a quiet night. Saturday’s fixtures went the same way and with a deep bench, and talented players, and the boys delivered – entering Sunday as the number one seed. Our semi-final went according to plan and the boys were operating as team. While the final was a comfortable win, we were pushed as the opposition had bolstered its ranks after witnessing the strength of the team during the prelims. After a patchy first half, the boys knew what was expected and how to deliver – and deliver they did. A lopsided second half saw us step comfortably into the winner’s circle. Exercising common sense (for once) I opted to catch an earlier flight, abandoning the post-tournament festivities.
After the initial invitation, I debated whether or not I wanted to give up the long-weekend. I have been watching MacDowellRugby slowly build its brand and it had captured enough of my interest to fly out and assist. It is quite a testament that Robin, Brettski, and Nish had managed to convince two groups of 20 something year-old men, separated by 1800km of pavement to meet in the middle on the May long weekend, and in Edmonton (with the bugs)! It was clear to me that Robin has the passion and drive to build programs and instill confidence. Demonstrating the ability to simply get it done, in spite of any real or perceived obstacles, he delivers. As impressively, he seems to have the innate ability to seek out talent and sell an opportunity. I met some great young men who have a diverse background and was amazed at where Robin, Nish, and Brettski had uncovered the talent. MacDowellRugby has a mandate to open pathways, seek talent, and develop rugby in ways that may prove challenging for most. Moreover, his coaching style and supporting cast of coaches and managers are professional, professionally kitted out, and well drilled.
With the weekend well behind me, I am grateful for the invite and really enjoyed working with the group. MacDowellRugby has carefully crafted their brand and as far as I am concerned, they are doing the right thing for the game, and for the young men and women they represent. Well done boys. I am looking forward to following this emerging story.
Footnote: All Sask guys had to pick out a CD from Walmart for the journey. Worst Pic – Pit Bull. Best Pic – Best of Hall and Oates (I downloaded from Spotify on way home)!!"
Below is the full roster and staff for the MacDowellRugby Elite VII Edmonton Rugby Fest 7's team:
Doug Fraser (C) - Ladysmith, BC
Mike Clarke - Calgary, AB
Wade Lavallee - Regina, SK
Nathan Stewart - Williams Lake, BC
Gonzalo Pons - Mexico City, Mexico
Riley Dinardo - Toronto, ON
James Pitblado - Vancouver, BC
Payton Hall - Regina, SK
Marcus Hall - Regina, SK
Patrick Young - Regina, SK
Kyle Lagasca - Toronto, ON
Mitchell Novak - Regina, SK
Brandon Baker - Regina, SK
Tristen Franc - Prince Albert, SK
Head Coach: Robin MacDowell
Assistant Coach: Mark Wyatt
Assistant Coach: Brett Kannenberg
Manager: Nishant Jain
Water Boy: Dustin Dobravsky (injured)
Team Mascot: Kane
MacDowellRugby and the 2017 Youth Commonwealth Games
Head Coach Robin MacDowell lead the U18 Boys Maple Leafs to a 4th place finish at the Youth Commonwealth Games in the Bahamas. The team lost a well-fought battle to a strong Fiji squad they had previously defeated in the Pool games.
MacDowellRugby Sevens Academy Athletes Hard at Work, Snow or Shine
Even though the end of the second MacDowellRugby Academy session saw a fair amount of snow, that didn't stop the athletes from getting in a couple hours of hard work!
The Fall 7's Academy session also solidified Rugby 7's as the focus of the MacDowellRugby Academy, fresh with new branding!
MacDowellRugby Founder Helps Mexico Reach Rugby World Cup 7s
Robin MacDowell recently helped Mexico make history as the National Women's team qualified for the Rugby World Cup 7's. MacDowell stepped into the role of head coach for the team at the beginning of 2017, and has been working tirelessly between running MacDowellRugby, and coaching the Mexican Women's 7's team to the World Cup in San Francisco later in 2018.
While 2017 is nearly behind us, the exciting developments that took place for MacDowellRugby this past year are only the beginning. We plan on running more Academy sessions, entering more MacDowellRugby Elite VII teams into tournaments across Canada, and even unveiling fresh new MacDowellRugby apparel!
From our rugby family to yours, we wish you a Happy New Year, and look forward to seeing you in 2018!