An open letter to the rugby community from the Barrhaven Scottish Rugby Football Club

Prior to the beginning of the 2019 club season, the coaching staff of the BSRFC senior women’s team
were informed by some of their club athletes that there was a plan for three of the Universities in the
Eastern Ontario region to implement an August 1st ban on club rugby for their athletes. The purpose of
the ban is to provide them with rest before their university season begins. The universities in question
are Queen’s University, Carleton University and the University of Ottawa. This letter will address the
issue relating specifically to the latter two Universities, since we have no club athletes who attend
Queen’s University and no direct knowledge of the implementation of the ban in that program.

The decision to implement a ban on club rugby as of August 1st undermines the importance of the club
system, is disrespectful of the club system, and removes any choice from the athletes to make decisions
in their own best interest.

The Scottish would like to highlight a change that was made to the club season schedule in order to
accommodate university training camps and pre-season games that historically overlapped with club
play-offs and finals. In 2018, the BSRFC Senior Women lost in the semi-finals, however would have had
to forfeit the final of the LPR Premier division regardless because they were unable to field a full team.
The final overlapped with university training camps and those athletes were not allowed to participate
in the club final. Subsequently, at the following Rugby Quebec AGM, the BSRFC put forth a motion that
the club season begin and end one week earlier. Through collaborative effort and discussion between
Rugby Quebec and the clubs within the Ligue Provincial Rugby (LPR), the motion passed. As a result of
this decision, there is no longer any overlap with the start of University training camps or pre-season
games.

It is important to note that the August 1st ban on athletes participating in all club rugby games and
practices was neither discussed with, nor communicated directly to the BSRFC. The coaching staff, and
subsequently the BSRFC Executive Board, only became aware of the ban when concerned club athletes
brought it to their attention.

The Scottish coaches have attempted to respond proactively to this ban by progressively preparing
development athletes to be able, confident and eligible to play in the premier division playoffs. They
have done so by prioritizing, when possible, the playing time and therefore development of club
athletes who do not attend either of these universities. However, despite their efforts, the Scottish may
no longer be able to field two teams for LPR playoffs and the Club would like to take this opportunity to
apologize to our opponents.

Our fellow clubs deserve full and competitive squads to play against all season long. Unfortunately, with
player welfare in mind as well as abiding by LPR regulations (that athletes must compete in three regular
season games to be eligible and may not play in a playoff game of a lower division once they have
played in a higher division playoff game), we may not be able to field teams for playoffs.

The ban makes it clear that these university programs are not athlete-centered, and do not have the
best interests of the athletes or the rugby community at heart. In the Premier division of the LPR, where
the first XV of the Scottish play, athletes compete against provincial and national team athletes every
week. Knowing this will be beneficial to their athletes, the universities encouraged them to play in the
Premier division.

In addition, the universities added weekly training sessions throughout the summer. If athletes are
overloaded and burnt out, it is because of additional training requirements set by their university
programs in their designated off-season. Further, it is disrespectful to the club system to force athletes
to leave teams they have trained and bonded with all summer and to put clubs in positions where they
may have to forfeit games and pay financial penalties.

The BSRFC would like to make it clear that university athletes will always be welcomed to the club
because we see the incredible benefits to both the athletes and club. The party at fault here is not the
athletes or the clubs; it is the university coaches and their programs.

It is the position of the BSRFC that decisions regarding participation and scheduling should always be
made with player welfare in mind. To that effect, the BSRFC Executive Board brought this issue to the
attention of Rugby Ontario with the intent that it be discussed with all relevant stakeholders. We are
now aware that there have been recent discussions held at the highest levels of Provincial rugby and
University Sport. We believe that this is a great first step in open discussion and collaboration and thank
these partners for their response and engagement in this issue. Furthermore, we recommend that the
athletes themselves be engaged in the discussion and decision-making process, since they were not
engaged in the initial decision to implement the ban.

With a goal of strengthening the rugby community and working together to create safe and welcoming
environments for the development and enjoyment of rugby, the BSRFC look forward to engaging in
collaborative and cooperative discussions to find a resolution to the matter.

Sincerely,

The Barrhaven Scottish Rugby Football Club