When Capilano Mini and Age Grade Rugby Director, Paul Timperley
first came to Canada, he contacted his local club, the Capilano Rugby Club and offered to help coach their junior rugby programs, only to find that such programs did not exist. As an experienced coach who had been coaching junior and mini-rugby in a major club in England for a number of years, this was a great concern, particularly when he had the chance to see school rugby being played.
Paul tells the story "I recall watching a game between a visiting Scottish school and a North Shore All Stars team: when the teams walked out onto the field I felt sorry for the Scottish team – man for man they were so much smaller than the Canadian players who were all very big and athletic. I felt sure that the Scots were in for a very hard game. Once the game started, it was clearly not the case – the Scottish kids had been playing mini-rugby since they were 5 years old, had great basic skills and knew where they should be positionally at all times and their support and back up play was excellent. In contrast the Canadian players, who had started Rugby in Grade 8 for the first time, had poor basic skills, played the game very hard physically but ineffectively, and were isolated and out of position most of the time, losing possession and giving up points as a result. My immediate thought was that if I wanted my own two young sons to play Rugby, I'd better leave Canada for more enlightened shores!"
Not to be daunted, Paul initiated a program in 1995 to coach rugby to Grade 4 school students in Collingwood School in West Vancouver. The program was only moderately successful as he was unable to find opponents to play against. He found that there were no full, or even half season Rugby programs in BC, or anywhere else in Canada, at that time for children in the younger age groups. He firmly believed (and still does) that if Canada is to compete successfully internationally, more players must be introduced into, and retained in, the game from a much earlier age – his battle cry at that time was "Grade 8 is too late!" He, therefore, decided to set about the task of setting up a complete Mini-Rugby program, using the best of his previous experiences in the UK and observations in other countries.
The first task was to convince BCRU
and the clubs of the necessity for such a program and Paul spoke to groups of clubs and coaches at every chance, eventually getting 4 clubs to buy into his ideas. "I turned up every time there was any kind of meeting and made people listen to me at every opportunity - eventually they started to take notice. Dan Wood of the Brit. Lions, Rick Bourne of the Ravens, and Ed Wight of the Lomas stepped forward and with the Capilanos, were the founders of Mini-Rugby in Canada
in 1996. Without that support, there would have been no programs, probably until this day".
Paul started the Capilano program
in September 1997 with a group of enthusiastic parents and volunteers, most of whom are still heavily involved in running the program. He recalls "I contacted all the players and ex-players in the club with kids and ran our first practice in early September with about a dozen players turning up. A buddy day the following week doubled our numbers and we called a parents meeting to set up a committee to run the program. Those parents and their 100% commitment and involvement are the reason for the success of our program. Former Canada player Tony Scott agreed to help coach the bigger kids and his wife Wendy to run the catering. We had to have bacon sandwiches, the secret ingredient of recruiting coaches in my UK club! New Zealander Graeme Dearnley and wife Ellen agreed to look after registrations and the money. Another New Zealander Graham Hadfield and wife Janine agreed to coach the little kids, even though Janine had never seen Rugby played before. Lee Southern offered to design and fund a brochure to publicize our program in the schools and rec. centres and we were on our way"
Having completed that task, Paul produced a province-wide plan
for the program, prepared a model program for the Clubs and coaches to use, wrote a coaching manual, imported balls and jerseys from the UK as there were no kids' sizes sold in Canada, and set out to gain support from the rest of the Clubs to implement the program throughout BC. In addition, as no funds were available from either Rugby Canada or BCRU, he undertook the task of raising funds to promote the program and to develop a promotional video for use in schools, raising over $20,000 in the first year.
The program has been very successful and has received superb support from a large number of hard-working and committed members of local clubs. The BCRU mini-rugby
and age-grade program
has grown steadily to a point where there are now more than 25 clubs
and 2700 children
aged 5-19 playing the game in BC, with jamborees attracting over 1000 players from throughout the Province. Our own Capilano program now has over 400 registered players
and 30 certified coaches
and a dedicated and efficient parent committee that runs co-ed mini-rugby programs for boys and girls in every age group from pre-school to grade 6, plus age grade programs and leagues for 13and U14 boys and girls, U15 and U16 Boys, U16 girls, U17 Boys, U19 girls and U19 boys. In addition Paul has worked with clubs in Alberta, Ontario, California, Oregon, Washington State, and Colorado to implement programs based upon the Capilano model. In recognition of his achievements, Paul was awarded the prestigious NCCP 3M "Coach of the Year" Award for BC in the Grass-Roots category in 2000, and was awarded the Sport BC President's Award in 2001 and is currently Director of Rugby Development for BC Rugby.
In March 2003 the first Board of Directors
was initiated with 9 volunteer parent members and Paul as Chair. They continue to meet monthly
to work on such areas as registration, coach development, safety, fundraising, events, budget, uniform sales, catering, communication, web development, developing volunteer support, legal status, etc. There are now 7 directors
with some retiring soon so various positions are available
for committed parents who would help to develop and improve the program as it grows each year. Other positions are available on working committees to tackle various issues and projects. A meeting about the board will be announced this Fall.
This year we will be making our communication more efficient by hiring professional data entry to be timelier with team email lists available sooner and kept up to date with ongoing registration.
This year the Board is asking each family
to make a commitment to volunteer
at some level. The more everyone becomes involved in Capilano Mini Rugby the more successful it will be in giving your children a fantastic and safe rugby experience for years to come.