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Groundbreaking Partnership Established Between Rugby Manitoba & MACDOWELLRUGBY

At the beginning of March 2024, a groundbreaking partnership was formalized between MACDOWELLRUGBY and Robin MacDowell’s Talent ID Network, and Rugby Manitoba. This newly established and first-of-its-kind arrangement sees MacDowell provide training and talent ID opportunities to all age-grade levels of players coming through Manitoba’s ranks. 

Since the announcement was first made public last month, excitement has been building as rugby folks coast to coast watch with great interest. 

Robin MacDowell – with his vast coaching experience, academy expertise, and gift for talent identification  – is the perfect fit to help Rugby Manitoba build a stronger union and flourish. He also understands the unique circumstances experienced in many of Canada’s vast rural areas, especially in the Prairie Provinces. He says, “for most of Canada we are under ice and snow for the majority of the year. We have so many strong builders across our country that work tirelessly in our short playing season to find talent, develop them and support their growth in a tight window. Our goal is to use our resources to support their programs, their coaches, and athletes towards their goals!”

Rugby Manitoba is excited for the opportunity to work more closely with MacDowell and his talented coaching staff. 

The opportunity arose in January of this year when Robin traveled to Winnipeg to hold a “7’s Masterclass Coaching Seminar” for Rugby Manitoba coaches, athletes, and staff. Executive Director of Rugby Manitoba, Steve Dreger, shared that it was a positive experience that all stakeholders in Manitoba enjoyed. 

Offering new ideas and reigniting a passion in a group setting and seeing people leave excited to implement new strategies and plans is precisely what drives MacDowell to help unions strengthen their programming. 

This agreement sees MACDOWELLRUGBY providing expertise, resources, and support in developing rugby programs and initiatives. They will also run coaching clinics, and coordinate with Rugby Manitoba in promoting rugby events and competitions. For their part, Rugby Manitoba will support with administration and implementation. They will  work closely with MACDOWELLRUGBY to identify areas where collaboration will be most effective across the province. 

The role of the Talent ID Network runs concurrent with MACDOWELLRUGBY. It has been developed to bridge the gap between talented players and the pathways that may be inaccessible to them for a variety of reasons. Specifically in Manitoba, their role is to support and strengthen existing pathways, which will help the Province to further develop rugby within their communities. 

Dreger says that the hope for Rugby Manitoba is that “coaches and athletes get opportunities to further develop their rugby knowledge and build on their skills.” He adds “Rugby Manitoba is thrilled to give our athletes and coaches an opportunity to work with MACDOWELLRUGBY.”

Plans are underway, and Robin MacDowell is excited to implement the plan for the 2024 season. He says, “out of the gates we have had a positive working relationship with Steve, Colleen, Gord, and the entire Rugby Manitoba team! We are all aligned towards the same goals in working together as a rugby community to support the pathways, opportunities, and development of rugby programs coast to coast.”

The Prairie Provinces have proven to be a hotbed of talent for rugby in Canada, boasting many great players that have represented their region and their country at the highest level. 

With this new agreement, Rugby Manitoba in partnership with MACDOWELLRUGBY is aiming straight for the uprights.

  • Karen Gasbarino, May 2024


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