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Rugby Canada Dismisses Women's 7s Coach After Player Rebellion

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Rugby Canada Dismisses Women's 7s Coach After Player Rebellion

John Tait addresses the Canadian Women's 7s team. Photo World Rugby.

The Canadian women's 7s team is undergoing a shakeup just as the 2021 Olympics is on the horizon.

Rugby Canada released a statement saying that they have appointed an interim technical leadership plan in collaboration with the team. Head Coach John Tait was not mentioned by name, but it is clear that Tait has been replaced, and it seems just as clear that Tait has been let go because the players (or some of the players) complained about him.

Gossip and actual press reports are flying around but the story appears to be not dissimilar to the USA WNT 7s situation leading into the 2016 Olympics. The players have voiced dissatisfaction with the approach of a coach who has proved his quality, and Rugby Canada has gone along with it. Under Tait, Canada made three out of four tournament finals in the truncated 2020 Women's World Series season, won a Bronze Medal in the 2016 Olympics, and finished 2nd, 3rd, or 4th in the World Series from 2015-2019.

According to reports in BC Rugby News and the Canadian Press, it seems like the player complaints are about how Tait runs the team, and how the players want more say. Other reports to GRR imply that the players wanted the Olympic squad to be named early in the year, and Tait basically said that was his call.

So, just a few months before the Olympics, Rugby Canada has turfed out its coach and installed existing 15s Head Coach Sanro Fiorino as interim 7s Head Coach. 

Tait has been a long servant of Canadian rugby, earning 37 caps for Canada in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He moved into coaching and has coached Canada in 15s, men and women, and 7s. 

More on this via BC Rugby News here >>

Here is Rugby Canada's entire release:

While addressing a complaint that was received from National Senior Women’s 7s players, Rugby Canada has developed an interim technical leadership plan in collaboration with the team that will support their goals in preparing for the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. The team remains united and focused on the ultimate goal of winning a medal at the Olympic Games and building a legacy that will empower the next generation on and off the field.

Rugby Canada has engaged an independent investigator to address the matter. “Rugby Canada is taking these concerns very seriously. We are following our internal policies and procedures that are in alignment with established national response guidelines, and in a manner that reflects our values. As per our policies and to reflect our commitment to confidentiality, we will update our community once the process has been completed,” shared Rugby Canada CEO Allen Vansen.

Sandro Fiorino, National Senior Women’s 15s Head Coach, has temporarily relocated to Langford and is acting as interim Head Coach to oversee training. Fiorino is being assisted by National Senior Women’s 15s Assistant Coach Maria Gallo. Fiorino will be with the 7s team until April and both coaches will maintain their roles with the National Women’s 15s team as they prepare for RWC 2021 later in the year.

Mick Byrne will assume the role of National Senior Women’s 7s interim Head Coach through to the Olympic Games. Byrne has been a specialist coach with both New Zealand and Australia and has consulted with the Canadian Women’s 7s team since 2012. “I am excited at the opportunity to lead this team into the Tokyo Olympics,” said Byrne. “I will be integrating with the team immediately in a remote capacity and look forward to joining in-person when able. I am very familiar with the players and systems and have great confidence that our team will be performing at our best come July.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic causing the cancellation of many HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series events, it is anticipated the National Women’s 7s team’s first competition of 2021 will take place in the Spring.