Pacific Pride News

October 03 2005

John MacMillan resigns as coach of Pacific Pride program

posted Oct 3 2005

BC Rugby News learned that John MacMillan has resigned from the position of Pacific Pride coach. His resignation was accepted by Martin Gallagher on behalf of the Rugby Canada board.

The path of the Pacific Pride has been tumultuous since Martin Gallagher took over as the Director of Rugby for Rugby Canada. The program was cancelled on May 26th of this year despite providing the national team with a large percentage of its current crop of players. Many people were dismayed at the decision and the public outcry spurred Rugby Canada to re-introduce the Pacific Pride as an U21 program starting in January 2006. There was speculation on how the U21 program would function, with Tony Medina the existing head coach of the U21 team and John MacMillan the head coach of the proposed U21 development program.

It's ironic that the main development program for Canadian rugby has been set in turmoil at the same time the IRB is making great overtures about pumping $3.3 million into the development of Canadian rugby over the next three years. It seems most of the money is being spent on high level competitions for elite athletes with the hope of sparking interest amongst the great unwashed, the sports starved North American consumer. The thinking seems to be, throw money at high level rugby competition in Canada and the USA, the consumer sports addict contentedly munching on a daily diet of football, baseball and hockey will look up, say wow this is much better and rush, money clenched in fist, over to rugbyville. The media giants noticing this movement will rush over with their wheelbarrows of cash and the rest is history. That is the IRB/RFU view of North American consumerism, how colonial you say...exactly.

The real worry is that after three years of grandiose plans and spending, the IRB/RFU braintrust will shrug their shoulders, declare the plan a bust, find a local scapegoat, and move on. Martin Gallagher will return to England and on to another RFU assignment. Canadian rugby will be looking around for coaches and rugby minds the calibre of John MacMillan...let's hope we haven't sent them all packing by that time.

Pacific Pride support continues: Letter to Rugby Canada president from Adam Ustik

posted June 25 2005

Roger Smith
Rugby Canada

This Email is in regard to the RC decision to cease funding and support of the Pacific Pride development program centered in Victoria.

As a long time participant in all aspects of Rugby in Canada I am dismayed and disgusted in the decision and the manner in which it was made to cancel the Pacific Pride program.

To give you a perspective on why I am dismayed and disgusted in your actions I bring to your attention the following: I started playing Rugby 50 years ago at Victoria High School, played for Uvic, JBAA, Velox, Crimson Tide and laterally for the old boys over 40 Ebb Tide. I along with my JBAA colleagues Sonny Vickery,Ed Kubek' George Jones, Bob Coutts, Tillman Briggs and others recognized the need for the development of young players to ensure the survival of Rugby. In the 1960's, without the support of any national body charged with "development of players", we coached, managed, fund raised and supported young players 14 to18, many of them graduates of Bantam and Juvenile Canadian Football. Our efforts were successful in that many of these former players are still active in all aspects of Rugby to-day.

I have travelled to Wales to watch the 1999 WRC and Australia in 2003 to support Team Canada in the WRC. As a result I feel that I have contributed to the coffers of the IRB and as a consequence expect that funds would be forthcoming to Canada for the development of Rugby in Canada, by Canadians for Canadians.
Am I dreaming?

I have also had the pleasure of travelling with the Pacific Pride in it's development tours to Germany and Chile. One of the highlights of the tour to Germany was the Pride victory over the German National Team. The Pacific Pride players did Canada proud both on and off the field on that occasion and I was honoured to be with them.

Because of my experiences I believe the RC decision to withdraw support form the Pacific Pride program in such a summary manner is ill conceived and indefensible. I have not heard of any well reasoned factual information why RC made such an abrupt decision without consultation of the affected coaches, players and staff as well as the support group in Victoria.

I am especially disenchanted with what seems to me to be a bureaucratic structure at the national level in that funding seems to be devoted to staff to administer a non existent rugby program.

Why are we importing people from the IRB to tell us what we should be doing for Rugby in Canada? Canada is not Ireland, Wales or England. Canada is a geographically large country with varied climatic conditions which mitigate against any lengthly season except in SW British Columbia. How much funding is Rugby Canada receiving form the IRB? Are there any strings attached? What is our IRB representative doing to extract additional funding for Canada?

In my view it is ironic that members of the Board of Rugby Canada promoted themselves as the "agents of change", your recent decision lends itself to the more appropriate title "agents of shame".

I trust that Rugby Canada will reconsider it's shameful decision to close the Pacific Pride program for 2005.

Adam Ustik
Victoria, B.C.

More letters of support for the Pacific Pride program from Greg Mosgrove, Aiden Buan and Linda Mills

From:Greg Mosgrove
posted June 16 2005

Dear Rugby Canada,

As one of the inaugral members of the CCSD under David Clark I have been following the CCSD/Pride as long as anyone else has been. I'm amazed that even with the success of the program in feeding the Senior Men's Team you have decided to cancel this program. From my two years of the program the following players have either been capped for the XV's or VII's side:

Danny Baugh
John Tait
Jon Theil
Colin Robertson
Morgan Williams
Sean Fauth
Nik Witkowski
Kyle Nichols
Mark Irvine
Ken Goodland
Garth Cooke
Simon Pacey
Adam Marshall
Phil Murphy
Jeff Williams
Adam Van Staveren

These guys are all incredible athletes, but many of them probably would not have made it to the full National Team without the opportunity to play for the Pride. David Clark was an incredible coach. He instilled a level of professionalism in the players that is an absolute requirement in order to take your play to the next level. Players who never paid attention to training off the rugby pitch suddenly made physical transformations to their bodies that allowed them to play against the best in the world. The skills that you learn by being coached by the best coaches in Canada who can dedicate 100% of their time to developing you as a rugby player are vital. Having gone back to playing both club and Super League rugby the coaching, professionalism, and intensity is so much lower. I felt a void in those areas when I left the Pride. No where else in the country can you get such a high level of coaching and training as you can with the Pride. Without the Pride our young stars will remain with their club teams (which will benefit the clubs), but the players will not be challenged and pushed the way that only the Pride can.

I personally look back at the Pride as a great rugby experience for me. Unfortunately injury has hampered my ability to play at the highest level, but if I hadn't been injured the Pride would have greatly benefited me in my drive to play International rugby.

It is a shame that Rugby Canada has decided to pull the plug on this program. The Senior Mens XV's and VII's will suffer from this in the years to come as the crop of young players comes through without the development that the Pride has to offer.

I urge you to reconsider your decision to cancel the Pride program, the Senior Mens Teams will suffer, as will the athlete's who would benefit from a wonderful program.

Greg Mosgrove, CFA
Revenue Initiatives Manager
Finance Dept.
MBNA Canada Bank

From Aiden Buan
posted June 16 2005

To whom it may concern,

As a Pride graduate I was shocked and dissapointed to see the program end in the way it did. To cancel the program in such a disrespectful and thoughtless way, without explanation is a slap in the face of those with ties to the program. I won't pretend to know every reason for the dissolution of the program, and I am sure there are some reasons that the board will point to, I do know however that there are hundreds of reasons both big and small to continue the program. Every player who I played with, as well as all current and past participants at the Pride share something that is hard to find in our countries rugby landscape.....high level rugby all the time with total focus on reaching the next level.

What about the work of Clark, Hubby, Macmillan, and all the others who took the program to the levels it achieved. I don't think that time and commitment should be cast aside to the scrap heap. Rugby in Canada needs the Pacific Pride program, without it we are taking away oppurtunities for players, coaches, and the youth who aspire to make the team.


Aidan Buan

From Linda Mills
posted June 16 2005

I for one do not support the choices that where made to cut the Pacific Pride Program... Not acceptable. Why on earth would someone outside of BC have the right to have a say in what works and what doesn't for BC? I love to go on Sat. afternoons all over Victoria and watch these amazing athletes perform with all they've got. Those guys play with their hearts and souls. RUGBY is a CANADIAN Game as well as the rest of the world. Let the boys Play. Hundreds of people of all ages come out to watch these games. I for one think it is the best $5 I spend :] The games are priceless.

CANADA has excellent players and differently have the potential of producing top notch athletes that would be proud to represent it's country. Pacific Pride was well on it's way in doing so. What gives? Why cut the funding. These guys are not out on the streets causing trouble. Not in Bars or Jail. They are playing Rugby.

I encourage those few that cut the Funding to Pacific Pride to put the funding back.. Those Guys were awesome. If Pacific Pride is a start with the funding cuts for Rugby, where does it end? Canada definitely has the skill in all levels to produce the best in the world. No Man should be allowed to stand in the way of that. Sports rule.

cheers Mates
Linda Mills

Ken Goodland adds his letter of support to the Pacific Pride program

posted June 13 2005

Dear Rugby Canada,

I am writing this letter with hesitation because I know there is enough negativity surrounding our great game right now and I am reluctant to add to it. However I have to express concern with the decision to suspend the Pacific Pride program because it has been something that has affected not only my rugby career, but my life. I realize difficult and unpopular decisions sometimes have to be made to maybe improve certain situations down the road, but this decision was, it seems, much too unpopular. We all wish there were some bottomless bag of money you could carry around and dip in to anytime something needed to be fixed but unfortunately there isn't. And if this is about money it would seem there is enough support, energy, and devotion around to come up with the resources to accommodate this specific financial problem. If it isn't about money then I wonder what it is about.

When I got a call in June of 1996 asking me to be a part of what was then called the CCSD, I was over the moon. Here was a program that allowed me to not only concentrate on rugby, but help me grow as a person with new friends in a new surrounding. Friends that I will no doubt have for life. I was afforded the chance to travel to places I never thought I would get, Fiji, Malaysia, and Australia to name the big ones. And I was able to accomplish things many thought were improbable and make a lot of people in my life very proud of me. Because after all I'm just a smart ass from the Rock. So you see, the Pacific Pride program is not just about the rugby or the training or the gear. It's about growth and improving yourself and making good on an opportunity that few will ever get. To take that opportunity away from future smart asses would be a tragedy and something I hope you seriously reconsider at your next meeting.

Ken Goodland

Letters come in supporting the Pride Program, the latest from Pacific Pride Manager, Mother Hubbard

submitted by Sandi Walmsley
posted on June 10 2005

I would like to take the opportunity to thank Pacific Sport, Ken Shields, Roger Skillings and his staff for their support over the last nine years. I would also like to thank all the Pacific Pride/CCSD supporters, rugby clubs and sponsors for their support.

While with the program, I had the privilege of working with the DP and Mr. Happy, two of the most dedicated, loyal, committed and possessed people I’ve ever known, who have also become two of my many close friends in life.

Most important of all I have had the privilege of serving 100+ nose-picks who gave this fat old man the greatest 9 years of his life…I will always remember each and every one of you. As in our history in Canadian amateur sports the hobbyists and bureaucrats have gotten in the way of the professionals and prevented our program from continuing.

Baggage master, manager, master of the hub down, Huddy, Huddy, Hubby…

September 1, 1996-June 9, 2005, Telephone: 1.250.386.0708

Together and Strong!

“When something that has been created over time by so many people with commitment, hard work, planning, passion and care is then destroyed so easily by a few who do not care but only wish to control, it’s shameful.” Quote by
Dr. James Hubbard

$$$$$$$ IRB controllers of the Agents of Shame, Buckley (, Gallagher ( and Lefevre (

The Agents of Shame

President, Roger Smith (, Hans de Goede, Chris LeFevre, Rick Powers, Jay Johnston, Pat Parfrey, Heather Wilson-Banks, Rick Bourne, Pearse Higgins, Ray Hoemsen, Colette McAuley, Aaron Abrams

Letters come in supporting the Pride Program, the latest from Bill Meechan and Paul Horne

submitted by Paul Horne
posted June 6 2005

I feel a strong sense of frustration, confusion and anger at the decision, or at whoever made the decision, to discontinue the Pacific Pride program. It is, in my opinion as a former National U 19, U 21 and U 23 level coach, the worst thing that has happened to the game in Canada in over a decade.

It was, without a doubt the best thing to happen to rugby in Canada, when Rugby Canada had the vision to hire David Clark to model the program after the Australian Institute of Sport. Outside of the sevens program, it has been the only program that Rugby Canada offered. Canada finally had an academy that identified the best 30 players in the country and brought them together for an intensive rugby experience. This made it different than all the other teams in the past that were brought together for a weeks practice and then sent off for a 2-3 week tour only to return to Canada and never play together again. With the formation of the Pride program, money was being well spent and the results were impressive. One only has to look at the roster of our NSMT and the National 7's squads to see how many capped players got their start with the Pride. It is shocking to read that it is now history or put on the shelf.

It was with great pride that I watched our National team do so well at the US Sevens in Los Angeles this past February. I sat with a number of USARFU coaches as Canada advanced to win the Bowl Championship. The skill level was of the highest order. The discussion that took place was one of envy as I informed everyone that ten of the twelve players on the roster were products of the Pride program. "If only the US had such a program like Canada", one notable US coach commented. I am sure they will all be wondering what is going on in Canada when they get wind of this fiasco. What is the rationale in canceling the single most successful program in the short history of Rugby Canada? This is a travesty that must be reversed before the Pride is gone forever!

posted June 6 2005
submitted by Bill Meechan

Letter to Rugby Canada Directors in Word format

posted June 4 2005
submitted by Ben Buan


I write to urge you to act quickly to mend the serious tear in the fabric of rugby in Canada that you have caused by the clumsy manner in which you have handled the decision to suspend the Pacific Pride program. That this decision came on the heels of the dismissal of Rick Farrally as manager and the resignation of Rod Holloway as coach of the Seven's squad, only serves to increase the tension and suspicion in the rugby community that all is not well in the corridors of power at Rugby Canada.

I am not going to comment on the merits of the decision. However, I shall comment on the shocking ineptitude you have demonstrated as a Board of Directors in both the manner and the content of the communication of your decision.

I spoke with John MacMillan yesterday. He informed me he had yet to have any of his many calls returned by any member of the Rugby Canada Board of Directors. Nor has he had a response to a written communication directed to Graham Brown asking for more information regarding the decision. John told me he knows no more about the rationale for the decision than what is contained in the press release that was posted on the Rugby Canada website.

This is inexcusable. John MacMillan has been an integral part of the Pacific Pride program for 8 years. He has played a significant role in the development of many of Canada's top players over that period. He was, up until just over a week ago, under the impression his work was valued by the Rugby Canada Board. Surely he is owed the courtesy of a comprehensive explanation of the RC Board's rationale for its decision. Surely he is owed the courtesy of a face to face meeting in which he is able to ask frank and open questions about his future and to receive honest answers.

This is not the first time I have been puzzled at the inability of Rugby Canada to meet even the most modest standards of effective communication to its membership and its supporters. This time it strikes close to home since I was able to see the benefits the program provide to a host of young men during the two seasons my son was a member of the team. The entire Pacific Pride alumni deserve better than to see the program suspended in such a ham-handed manner and to see a man they respect treated so shabbily. The pain that decision has caused is obvious in the letter Chris May has posted and he deserves to have his questions answered directly and publicly.

There may well be compelling reasons why the decision you have made was the right one. We are left only to guess at what they might be, and this creates a thoroughly unhealthy environment as an information vacuum is soon filled with innuendo, rumour, and suspicion and you will find it hard to regain the trust of people the longer you fail to fill it with facts.

There is no excuse for not sharing your rationale with your major stakeholders. There is no excuse for not treating John MacMillan in a more professional manner. The decision has caused much anguish amongst your constituents. Unless you can show them why they should have hope for a replacement program to deliver the benefits that it is obvious the Pride program produced, then support from a large segment of the rugby community will continue to bleed away. This is support that you need if you are to succeed in improving the game in Canada.

I encourage you to act quickly to repair the damage you have caused.

Ben Buan

submitted by Dave Ramsay
posted June 4 2005

I agree with and support Chris 100%. As of the latest long list ( jan 05 ) 29 out of the 45 top ranked players on the Senior Men's Team have come out of our program. Where or who else is going to develop these players? The Super League has given us 2 token misplaced aussies for the 03 World Cup. The Academy? C'mon. There had to have been another way the board could have gone about this. If not, why don't they tell us straight up?

Proud Pacific Pride Allumni
Dave Ramsay


[ed. earlier I had posted the inside scoop on the Pacific Pride future from those close to the Pride program. They thought they had the boards approval and thought it was a done deal to continue the program next year under a revised curriculum. Now this news comes as a blow to the gut, no doubt issued from the Ontario headquarters of Rugby Canada. There was no consultation with the Pride it was a unilateral decision, no doubt, initiated by those in Toronto with ties to the english money that is now running rugby in Canada. Where were the Pride defenders on the board, Hans de Goede, Pat Parfrey, and the player reps like Aaron Abrams. Surely they must have been involved and talked on behalf of the Pride. How much did the paid staff of Graham Brown CEO and Martin Gallagher, Director of Rugby influence this decision. I understand John MacMillan was just notified yesterday of the decision. Another example of poor communicating, poor decision making and lack of understanding by those sitting behind desks in Rugby Canada headquarters. Hopefully there will be more dialogue on this, to get some insight on the process and what alternatives are in place for elite athletes]

A Rugby Canada Press Release
May 26, 2005
Issued from: Toronto, ON

The Rugby Canada Board of Directors have announced their decision to put the operations of the Pacific Pride National Rugby Centre on hold for a period of one year – the 2005/2006 season. Rugby Canada will be reviewing the elite residential program concept in the coming year to determine the best fit given Rugby Canada’s strategic vision, financial capacity for an elite residential program and the most beneficial structure for an elite residential program in the future.

This decision was not taken lightly, however given the following factors the Rugby Canada Board of Directors came to the conclusion that the one year hiatus of the program was the proper course of action:

1. The loss of funding support from PacificSport for the 2005/2006 season.
2. Rugby Canada’s new strategic plan, which focuses on the development of a High Performance Program being funded, operated and controlled by Rugby Canada.
3. The mandate from the International Rugby Board, that if Rugby Canada is to be provided with additional funding for development that it be focused on the High Performance development of the Senior Men’s Program and that Rugby Canada control the High Performance program in order to control it’s future viability and expansion over time to all levels of elite programming.

Roger Smith, Rugby Canada’s President said, “We truly appreciate the partnership which we have had with PacificSport Victoria over the years and it has been a very difficult process in coming to the decision to place the Pacific Pride National Rugby Centre on hold for the year. However, in the end we have had to consider the program within the context of the new strategic direction of Rugby Canada and how the program interacts and impacts with the overall operation of Rugby Canada. Given all of these considerations and after vigorous debate it was agreed by the Board of Directors that this was the best decision for Rugby Canada as a whole for the coming year.”

Since its inception in 1996 the National Rugby Centre program has exposed over 100 of Canada’s top Under 23 Men’s rugby players to elite standards of competition, coaching, fitness training, and personal development in an intensive two year residential setting, and has providing over 50 players to the National 15’s and 7’s Teams.

Rugby Canada and its Board of Directors will be reviewing options for the future of the elite residential program over the course of the next several months. Their findings and decisions will be announced upon completion of that review process.

Rugby Pride Win Eastern Hearts and Minds

Victoria May 4, 2005
by Robin Dyke

With the completion of a noteworthy tour of Ontario and Quebec, the Young Canada Pride development program brought an otherwise challenging year to a very satisfying finish and established an active presence for the program in the east.

An intense tour of five matches and unprecedented fifty skill development clinics was what the Pacific Pride or rather Young Canada as the squad is known by scheduled for the last two weeks of April. This involved stops in Montreal, Ottawa, Peterborough, Oakville, Brampton and Toronto for the 29 players who represented nine provinces. A grueling schedule by any means but one on which Young Canada thrived and grew stronger as the tour progressed.

At the outset of the tour, Program Manager and Head Coach John MacMillan commented, “We have bitten off quite a challenge for ourselves but expect to put on more than just a show. We will showcase an exceptional group of athletes and hopefully inspire an increased interest in rugby as well as provide a stimulus of skill development at the grass roots level of the sport”. MacMillan’s intentions were well founded as all along the tour Young Canada was praised for their enthusiasm, high level and exciting play and dedication to the game.

Coach MacMillan was very pleased with his young charges showing on the field and in putting on their clinics, “They were all expected and more. They played big and they taught well. They inspired and left a very important and positive impression wherever we visited”.

Young Canada won four out of five of their matches and ran 50 highly successful 2-hour clinics for high school and rugby club programs that involved 2000 participants. To self-fund this tour Young Canada raised $75,000.

High school coaches were exceedingly complementary on the player run clinics. Typical was the comment, ‘the young men brought a positive, energetic approach to a group of keen newcomers to rugby. The upbeat, social attitude was as important as the skills that were taught in hooking the young people on the game’. A Rugby Canada staff member involved in one of the club clinics was typical of appreciation at that level, praising the Young Canada program ‘for reaching out to the community and helping grow our sport during their tour’.

Canadian rugby legend and international icon Al Charron congratulated Coach MacMillan and Young Canada for their enterprise in initiating the clinics as a feature of the tour, “I think this year’s tour is an excellent undertaking by the players and staff in giving back to the rugby community and they should be applauded for it”. On the fact that Young Canada had come east rather than an overseas location Charron continued, “Hopefully the players will also enjoy themselves by seeing areas of our country that in their still young life they might not have yet seen which is as important as touring and broadening your horizons abroad. Furthermore it is a chance for those that hail from Quebec and Ontario to play in Canadian colours before family and friends, which is always a thrill”. From the Young Canada perspective on their experience, Charron was right on.

The Young Canada Pacific Pride program attracts and is comprised of promising young players from across Canada. The program’s home is The National Rugby Centre based out of Victoria’s Pacific Sport Institute. The Pride program has developed the skills of many a young and aspiring Canadian rugby player since its inception in 1996 as part of the 1994 Commonwealth Games sport development legacy. The Pride program has graduated more than 150 players, over 50 players of which have gone on to senior men’s international caps in either or both 15’s and 7’s. The Program’s main sources of support and funding are Rugby Canada and PacificSport, Victoria

The Pride program has immense value according to Al Charron, “In this age of professionalism, Canada is very much up against it in competing against the big boys of international rugby. The jump from club rugby to international rugby is bigger than ever and players of promise need to be nurtured as best as we can in this country so they can negotiate that jump. The goal and focus at Pacific Sport is that players who are fortunate enough to attend the program improve and develop. The Young Canada side that trains and plays together for close to a full year has done remarkably well to generate an improved talent pool of players who are now better equipped to compete and contend in international competition for Canada”.

Charron’s words were recently echoed by Rugby Canada Director Dr. Pat Palfrey who remarked during the tour on the contribution of the Young Canada Pride program as being “a centre of development in this country” and a program that has done much more than meets the eye”. He went on to say, “A lot of people don’t recognize the contribution made by the Pride”. This recent tour of the east certainly has helped to bridge some of this gap in awareness.

The Young Canada clinic schedule did not deter their focus on their five matches, which built in competitiveness as the tour progressed. After a disappointing and humbling season in the BC Premier league, the Young Canada Pride were able to capture the potential and consistency that had eluded them and they put together five outstanding performances with four decisive wins. Only a slow start on their only loss and a very unplayable field prevented a full and deserving sweep.

Game results:

April 20 Young Canada 81 – Quebec University All Stars 7
April 24 Young Canada 29 – Irish Canadian RC 18
April 27 Young Canada 5 – Niagara Thunder 17
April 28 Young Canada 35 – Newfoundland Rock 12
April 30 Young Canada 33 – Ontario President’s XV 13

Young Canada tour members moving on to International competition this month are Jake Osborne, Anthony LaCarte, Kyle Haley and Simon Dunne selected to the Canada 7’s team for tournaments in London and Paris and Stan McKeen and Matt Weingart selected to represent Canada in Japan at the Senior Men’s Super Powers Cup competition. Sean-Michael Stephen is a non-traveling reserve for the Japan bound XV.

Injury, always a factor with the aggressive Young Canada play unfortunately intervened in the post tour plans of Canadian International 7’s star Justin Mensah-Coker and Canadian U21 hopeful Rob Turk. Both were injured in the hard-hitting win against the Ontario Selects. Mensah-Coker suffered a torn knee ligament and Turk a broken jaw. Both are expected to recover soon but their injuries eliminate two of our high talent prospects from immediate contribution to international play.

The reception and hospitality all along the way of the tour was exceptional and a highlight appreciated by

Pemberton Holmes
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